This spring-inspired quinoa salad is everything you want in a veggie-packed side dish. The flavors are mediterranean, with olives, lemon, dill, tahini, and cumin. It's the perfect side dish for potlucks and barbecues, and unlike pasta salad, it can be made several days ahead!
Recipe: $10.45 | Per Serving: $2.61 | Yield: 4
I'm so excited to share this Spring Quinoa Salad! It's time to start embracing all of the beautiful fresh vegetables and herbs of spring and summer and I am here for it!
We are currently in Scotland, and I have yet to locate any kind of farmer's market. However, I am hopeful that as summer approaches we will be able to find more local produce. And of course, bask in the beauty of an open-air market!
These photos were taken in Spain, but fortunately all of these foods are readily accessible in most areas of the world.
Let's discuss this dish itself - it is absolutely packed with nutrition and flavor!
I developed this recipe with a sort of mediterranean pasta salad vibe in mind, and the creamy tahini dressing brings it all together. Here we've got:
- polyphenols and tang from the black olives
- vitamin C and freshness from the bell peppers and lemon juice
- protein from the quinoa and chickpeas
- a bit of iron, zinc, and calcium (and creaminess) from the tahini
Plus plenty of other phytonutrients and flavors from the dill, cucumbers, and spices!
Additions to Spring Quinoa Salad
You can eat this as a meal in and of itself, but for me, this is part of a meal. It pairs beautifully with a lovely piece of fish, or with any of your classic BBQ proteins like burgers or grilled chicken.
I also love it topped with pickled red onions (or other homemade quick pickles) and with a sprinkling of feta cheese.
If I were serving this as the main dish or for meal prep, I would add a little more protein in the form of hemp seeds, feta cheese, Roasted Salmon, or Crispy Stovetop Chicken Thighs.
Dietary Modifications for this Spring Quinoa Salad Recipe
- Paleo: no, quinoa and chickpeas are not Paleo.
- Vegetarian: yes! this recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan.
- Low FODMAP: mostly! Here's how to make this spring quinoa salad lower in FODMAPS:
- Skip or reduce the garlic in the dressing and the red onion.
- Choose chickpeas that have been soaked and cooked with kombu, then drain and rinse. Canned chickpeas are actually lower in FODMAPs than homemade.
- Quinoa is technically low FODMAP at 1 cup cooked. Tweak and adjust portions as tolerated.
PIN THIS RECIPE FOR LATER!!
Tahini Lemon Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free)
For the Creamy Lemon-Tahini & Dill Dressing:
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest optional
- 1 small clove of garlic
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons freshly juiced lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white or apple cider
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- ⅓ cup water
For the Salad:
- 3 cups quinoa cooked
- 1 ½ cups chickpeas cooked
- 1 large red bell pepper
- ½ english cucumber
- ½ pint grape tomatoes about 1.25 cups
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons red onion minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
For the Dressing:
- Combine all ingredients except the water in bowl or jar. Stir well, then add a little of the water at a time to combine slowly until a smooth consistency is reached. This will clump together at first, but eventually it will become smooth and creamy and perfect. Feel free to add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
- For the Salad: This salad is best with leftover cooled quinoa. If you need guidance on cooking quinoa, I've got a full guide to quinoa here!
- If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse.
- Prepare your bell pepper by cutting in half and removing the stem and seeds, then dice into small ¼-1/2 inch pieces.
- Dice the cucumber to a similar size as the bell pepper.
- Quarter the grape tomatoes: I like to cut them in half and then half again.
- If you don't have pitted kalamata or black olives, remove the pit first, then cut the olives into quarters.
- For the red onion, mince about ¼th of a medium red onion.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust salt as needed, and feel free to add a little more lemon juice if needed.
- Serve as is or on a bed of chopped arugula!
Really really good, even better the next day so definitely recommend making it ahead!
Caitlin Self, MS, CNS, LDN
Thanks Greg! And thanks for sharing the tip about making it ahead. :)
Delicious and so easy to make! Great addition to our picnic basket.