Take your next summer BBQ to the next level with this delicious Cold Quinoa Salad which is just packed with colorful summer veggies and a surprising burst of flavor from garlic and basil. This is the best quinoa salad for bringing to picnics, potlucks, and for packed lunches.
I love pairing this simple cold summer salad with some Lemon and Oregano Chicken Skewers straight from the BBQ.
Cold Quinoa Salad
Summer is here, and I for one am super excited to say hello to balmy summer nights, barbecues, and meals eaten outside with family and friends while the kids run amok!
Is there anything better?
Why yes there is...and that is having a potluck recipe up your sleeve that is not only easy to whip up but is always devoured by guests and takes mere minutes to put together.
This simple summer salad comes together so easily and uses only a handful of staple ingredients.
You will need:
- quinoa: you can use plain white quinoa or tricolor quinoa depending on preferences;
- crushed garlic: you can use fresh, frozen, or prepared garlic'
- basil: fresh basil is best, however, when it is hard to come by, or the basil available at the store doesn't have much flavor, I have found frozen basil cubes to work wonders in a pinch;
- corn kernels: once again we can use fresh, frozen, or canned corn here;
- organic shelled edamame: this is usually found in the frozen section of well-stocked grocery stores. If you are having a hard time finding shelled edamame, you can always buy edamame still in the shell and just shell it yourself;
- sweet bell peppers: I like to use a variety of colors (a combination of red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and green bell pepper), especially when making this for a bbq;
- tomatoes: use fresh tomatoes here, canned just won't cut it. Look for ripe tomatoes that are slightly firm and sweet. Cherry tomatoes would also work well;
- red onion: you could get away with yellow onion or brown onion if needed, but red onion is great for an extra pop of color. You could also throw in some green onions for extra color if you wanted;
- feta cheese: if you would prefer this quinoa salad to be dairy-free and/or vegan then you can replace this with a vegan cheese instead;
- lemon juice: fresh is best in terms of flavor, but you can always use jarred lemon juice in a pinch if needed. You could also sub in some lime juice if that's what you have;
- extra virgin olive oil;
- salt and black pepper to taste: for best results use freshly ground black pepper.
If you would like to serve this cold quinoa salad recipe as a main dish you might also want to add some cold chickpeas to bulk it up.
I just love having a super quick and easy recipe on hand to bring along to potlucks.
My husband, bless his cotton socks, always tells me about the BBQs we have been invited to on the day of, and never remembers to ask the host what we should bring.
This Quick and Easy Quinoa Salad has become my go-to recipe for such occasions, and it has saved me from being a terrible guest more than once!
- vegetarian, and easily made a vegan quinoa salad by replacing the feta with a vegan cheese alternative;
- meal prep friendly;
- easy to prepare.
You are simply going to cook the rinsed quinoa and allow it to cool completely.
For best results be sure to rinse the quinoa well using a fine mesh strainer before using it. This helps to get rid of the bitter taste sometimes associated with quinoa.
Add the cooled fluffy quinoa to a large bowl before adding all of the chopped veggies.
Stir the lemon dressing ingredients in a small bowl and add to the rest of the salad, toss and you are good to go.
All elements can be prepared ahead of time, and simply thrown together when needed.
Want to add some extras or need some substitutions?
As I said, this salad is super versatile and is great for clearing out the fridge, so why not add:
- use white rice or brown rice in place of the quinoa if you don't have it;
- green onions make the perfect addition in place of red onions whilst still adding a pop of color;
- black beans;
- other herbs of choice like fresh cilantro or fresh parsley;
- kalamata olives and chopped sundried tomatoes if you want a Greek quinoa salad or Meditteranean quinoa salad vibe or sliced Spanish olives if you want something a bit more subtle;
- other fresh vegetables you have hanging out in the fridge like chopped zucchini, cucumber, or carrot.
Make this simple salad work for you and the ingredients you have on hand to make the perfect meal!
What To Serve With Lemon Quinoa Salad
This super easy salad also happens to be super versatile.
It can be served as a main meal all by itself or as a perfect side dish.
Why not try serving:
- on a bed of spinach or arugula;
- with some added chickpeas for a vegetarian main meal salad;
- with some grilled and chopped chicken or fish tossed through it.
It also does really well as a side to whatever you happen to be cooking on the BBQ or grill at a summer get-together.
Next day this salad will pack great in lunchboxes for a great healthy lunch!
Quick and Easy Cold Quinoa Salad
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon crushed fresh garlic see notes
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup organic shelled edamame
- 1 cup sweet bell peppers, choppped
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil see notes
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cooked quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked add the crushed garlic to the hot quinoa, stir to coat and set aside to cool.
- Once the garlic quinoa has cooled, add in the corn, edamame, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and onion and toss to combine.
- Add the feta, chopped basil, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to eat.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
shannon jordan says
once made how long does this last?
Hi Shannon, this should last for about 3-4 days if stored correctly in the fridge.
Hi there, can I use bulgur instead of quinoa?
I loved this recipe, pinned 😉
Hi Rea, Yes bulgur would definitely work, the texture will be a bit different but the taste will still be there 🙂
I keep hearing about the Dorot products, but have yet to try them! They seem like a great timesaver and like they easily bring great flavor to so many recipes. Your quinoa salad sounds right up my alley. Really gorgeous photos, too. So inviting!
Oh thank you Amanda, the colors in the salad made them great for photography!! I have only happened upon Dorot in the last couple of months, and I am definitely a convert. They speed things up so much, and are so handy when you don't have access to fresh herbs.
This looks lovely! I'm always going on and off of quinoa, looking for that perfect recipe. I tend to be a little indifferent to quinoa in general, but with the right flavours I feel like it can really pop - and garlic/basil sounds like a great place to take things!
Oh, and on a totally unrelated note, I have never heard the expression "bless his cotton socks," but now I love it. Cheers 🙂
Haha I grew up in Ireland and it was a very common expression there 🙂
Ashleigh @ Dash of Evans says
I love quinoa salad, but I'm getting so bored with our current recipe. This is a great way to switch it up--we love edamame! These cubes are so convenient to have on hand. Pinned 🙂
Oh yay! It is so easy to get stuck in a rut with recipes. We love edamame too, my kids request it ALL the time, so it gets thrown into everything these days 🙂
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy says
First...I LOVE those awesome little cubes. So easy to use...and NO waste. Now for the delicious recipe. Quinoa is such a great ingredient. Love the nutty taste, not to mention how nutritious it is. This is perfect to take to the cottage, and picnics at the beach.
Oh now I want to go for a picnic at the beach (although its like 2 hours away and 105 so thats not happening!) They are super handy, I have become quite hooked, especially when I can't find fresh garlic at the markets
Love this!! What a fantastic side dish! I love those dorot cubes, too - they make life so much easier!
Oh they are so handy to have on hand in the freezer aren't they!
Sarah @ Champagne Tastes says
I love Dorot!!! It's great to have herbs ready in the freezer. On a side note- try planting your basil in containers, and then put half of a grapefruit upside down on the dirt at night. The slugs/snails will crawl up in it!
Thanks for the tip - I am definitely going to try that!! I have seriously tried everything else (except the chemicals), including some weird beer bath, so I am willing to try anything at this point!