Greek Garden Quinoa Salad
This Greek Garden Quinoa Salad makes the perfect light dinner on hot summer days. It features cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and plenty of herbs plus some fresh mozzarella and crispy chickpeas for protein. Take a trip to the garden or farmer’s market and you’ll have nearly all the ingredients for this easy summer salad!
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain which means it resembles a grain, but isn’t a type of grass like true grains. It’s gluten-free and higher in protein than its cereal counterparts. If you’d rather use something else, try couscous or wheat berries instead.
Low sodium broth can be found in the store, or made at home using this method. Personally, I always make my own because it is much cheaper and reduces waste. Use bone broth to make this recipe extra nutritious or veggie broth to make it vegetarian or vegan. The other option is to simply use water to cook the quinoa. It works just as well, but has less flavour and nutrients.
Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are a source of protein in this Greek Garden Quinoa Salad and when roasted, provide a satisfying, salty crunch. Any brand of canned chickpeas will work, but make sure they don’t contain preservatives. When draining the chickpeas, I always like to save the liquid (aquafaba) to use as an egg replacer in baking.
Olive oil is a healthy, flavourful source of fat used for roasting the chickpeas and as a base in the dressing. I like using garlic or herb infused olive oils, but plain will work too. The most important thing is that the olive oil is pure and unadulterated with cheaper oils. Unfortunately this is very common in the industry. Madhava is a reputable brand for plain olive oil, but I buy my infused oils from local shops. It’s also important to buy olive oil in dark, glass bottles because it’s so sensitive to light and heat.
Herbs and spices are a critical component to this Greek Garden Quinoa Salad. I use a variety of fresh herbs in the salad and dressing including basil, tarragon, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Feel free to experiment with your personal favourites. For the roasted chickpeas, I used cumin seeds, dried tarragon, dried oregano, and pepper from The Spice House. They offer a wide variety of high quality spices that are perfect for roasting and baking.
Cherry tomatoes are such an iconic summer food. Use homegrown or local tomatoes for maximum flavour. I chose the Sun Gold variety because they are so sweet and juicy, but other varieties work well too.
English cucumbers have a thin skin and tiny seeds compared to regular cucumbers. They’re both refreshing and crispy which is perfect for a light summer salad.
Fresh mozzarella balls pair wonderfully with tomatoes and basil. They’re soft and creamy with a very mild flavour. If you prefer a sharper cheese, freshly crumbled feta is a great alternative.
Kalamata olives offer some salty tang to the salad. Black olives could be used instead, but I like Kalamata because they’re packaged in vinegar and are a classic part of many Greek dishes.
How to Make a Greek Garden Quinoa Salad
If time allows, soak the quinoa for at least three hours before cooking. Rinse the quinoa and place it in a bowl with 1 cup of water and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. When you’re ready to cook, drain and rinse the quinoa again before cooking as directed below. The soaking process makes the quinoa easier to digest and makes the nutrients more bioavailable. If you don’t have time, no worries! It will cook up just fine without the soak too, but may take a few more minutes.
When you’re ready to cook the quinoa, place it in a medium saucepan with the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the germ ring releases from the quinoa and it is tender, about 15 minutes. Allow quinoa to cool and then refrigerate it while preparing the other ingredients.
To make the roasted chickpeas, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Then drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them on a clean tea towel and gently rub them to release the skins. It is not necessary to remove all the skins, but getting off at least some will make the chickpeas crispier.
Transfer the chickpeas to a medium bowl and mix in 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp dried tarragon, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. When the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, spread the chickpeas in an even layer on the sheet pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, tossing the chickpeas every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes, keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. When they are ready, the chickpeas should be golden brown and crunchy.
Dressing and Assembly
In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp fresh basil, 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, 1/4 tsp fresh oregano, 1/4 tsp fresh tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 cup cucumber, 8 oz mozzarella balls, 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, 1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil, 2 Tbsp chopped, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooled quinoa and mix well to combine.
The dressing may be added to the entire bowl or served separately on the side. Top with crispy roasted chickpeas. It’s best to serve the chickpeas on individual bowls rather than mixing with the entire salad so they retain their crunch.
I hope you enjoy this Greek Garden Quinoa Salad! Be sure to leave a rating below and let me know what you think in the comments. Enjoy!