This healthy Mediterranean quinoa salad with feta makes for a simple lunch or dinner, thanks to pantry staples like chickpeas, roasted red bell peppers, Kalamata olives, and is a light but filling vegetarian meal.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe
It’s no secret I love Mediterranean food. It’s a cuisine I turn to frequently, because of the flavors, textures, and health benefits. So when mulling over easy lunch ideas one day, I sat down and finally wrote up a recipe for this cold quinoa salad I have had on regular rotation for so long. This really has been my go-to for a quick, simple, and healthy lunch and I guarantee it’ll become one of your favorites as well.
While totally vegetarian and super light, this salad is surprisingly hearty and filling, thanks to protein-packed quinoa and chickpeas, but if you’re craving even more protein, you could always throw in some grilled chicken or salmon.
What’s in This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad?
This salad just hits all the right notes. Peppery arugula is a great, leafy base for complementing these Mediterranean flavors. Protein-packed quinoa and chickpeas bring a nice heartiness and texture. Roasted red bell peppers add a pop of color and sweet smokiness, while briny Kalamata olives and feta cheese lend a salty, acidic bite. A garlicky balsamic dressing ties it all together.
Here’s what’s in this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad:
- Quinoa — check out my tips for perfectly cooked quinoa
- Garbanzo beans add extra protein
- Roasted red peppers
- Kalamata olives deliver a nice, briny bite
- Feta cheese
- Garlicky balsamic dressing
How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The best thing about this salad (besides how delicious it tastes), is there are just 3 steps, so you can whip it up super fast. Not to mention it’s loaded with pantry staples you likely already have on hand. Another thing I love is it also happens to be easy to meal prep. I’ll often make my quinoa and dressing ahead of time and try to buy olives that have already been pitted, so I can essentially just throw everything into a bowl, and voila, lunch is served! As Ina would say, how easy is that?
Cook the quinoa. Follow my tips for perfectly cooked quinoa every time.
Make the garlicky balsamic dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, fresh garlic, dried basil and salt and pepper, and set aside.
Add it all to a bowl. Add the quinoa, arugula, garbanzo beans, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, and feta cheese to a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with basil. I prefer serving this as a cold quinoa salad or at room temperature so that the arugula doesn’t wilt.
See? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Is Quinoa Salad Healthy?
Known as one of nature’s superfoods, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a carbohydrate that’s extra rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and dietary minerals. In fact, 1 cup of quinoa provides twice the protein plus about 5 grams more fiber than the same amount of cooked white rice, making it a favorite plant-based protein for vegetarians and vegans. As a combo carb/protein, it fills you up faster and sticks with you longer.
Pair this super grain with protein and fiber-rich chickpeas, Mediterranean flavors, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, roasted red peppers and Kalamata olives, plus antioxidant-rich arugula, and you’ve got a salad teeming with health benefits.
Tips and Variations
- You can cook the quinoa in advance, then prep and store the remaining ingredients in separate containers until you’re ready to assemble this salad. I don’t recommend tossing everything together too far in advance, otherwise the arugula will wilt.
- When cooking my quinoa I like to add about ½ teaspoon of kosher salt to the water to flavor the grain as it cooks. Be sure to bring your water to a boil before adding the salt so it doesn’t pit and ruin the bottom of your pan.
- Be sure not to leave out the dried thyme in the Mediterranean salad dressing. It rounds out the earthiness of the dressing. Crumble the thyme leaves between your fingers to release the oils and mellow the herb.
- Try baby kale or spinach instead of arugula if you like.
- You could add additional toppings to this cold quinoa salad, such as thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, marinated artichokes, fresh bell pepper instead of roasted, and so forth.
- Add grilled chicken or salmon if you’re craving even more protein.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- 1 ½ cups dry quinoa
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves , pressed
- ½ teaspoon dry basil , minced
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme , crushed between your fingers
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans , drained
- 1 small jar roasted red bell peppers , drained and chopped
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives , pitted and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions with ½ teaspoon salt added to the water. Cool completely.
- Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pressed garlic, basil and thyme. Whisk until well combined. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
- To a large serving bowl, add the quinoa, arugula, garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
- Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with basil. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- You can cook the quinoa in advance, then prep and store the remaining ingredients in separate containers until you're ready to assemble this salad. I don't recommend tossing everything together too far in advance, otherwise the arugula will wilt.
More Quinoa Salad Recipes to Make
- Healthy Quinoa Salad
- Thai Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa and Kale Protein Power Salad
- Southwest Quinoa and Grilled Corn Salad
- Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas
- Kale Salad with Quinoa and Shrimp
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