~ A healthy, beautiful and wildly delicious quinoa salad! Quinoa and confetti greens are accented with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, cheese and a fabulous balsamic vinaigrette. ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
I’ve been making various versions of this salad for years, and it’s always, always the showstopper.
As in, everyone at the party asks for the recipe and volunteers to take home the leftovers. (Ummmmm … no … I kinda wanted them for myself …)
And as in, my husband stands at the refrigerator, shoveling forkfuls into his mouth and incoherently mumbling, “This is so good … I can’t stop eating it … you have to post this …”
Ok – I have to post this.
It’s like a party in a bowl (and in your tummy).
Colorful confetti-bits of greens, veggies and cheese make it eye-catching. A delicious balance of bold flavors makes it sensational. Quinoa (our friend the protein powerhouse) combines with salty parmesan and feta, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, sunny fresh basil, rich pine nuts, and kicky radicchio.
Super-healthy spinach hangs out quietly in the background, and nobody even realizes how many healthful ingredients are piling onto their plates. It all comes together with a simple balsamic dressing.
And for those who are not olive-impaired … you must add the kalamatas. They put this salad completely over the top on the taste-o-meter.
Now, Gretchen and I do both understand that olives are not for everyone. Try as they might to overcome it, both our husbands harbor strong, incurable olive aversions. It’s sad. We feel sorry for them.
But since our Romeos have so many, many other wonderful qualities, we have eventually come to accept what we just cannot change.
They swear this salad is awesome without the olives, but we just laugh, comfortable in the knowledge that it’s even better yet if you add the kalamatas.
You be the judge … stirred in or served on the side … (pssssst … include the olives!).
Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad
This beautiful and wildly delicious quinoa salad is both healthy and so easy! Quinoa and confetti greens are accented with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, cheese and a fabulous balsamic vinaigrette!
• Make Ahead • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 small- to medium-sized head radicchio, cored and finely chopped (to yield about 2 cups)
- 6 ounces baby spinach, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (see note)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped kalamata olives, optional
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or white balsamic – see note)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions. After cooking, allow to cool completely and fluff with a fork.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, radicchio, spinach, tomatoes, parmesan, basil, feta, pine nuts, garlic, and olives (if using). Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Chill until serving.
Parmesan: The flavor profile and assertiveness of parmesan can vary notably depending on the brand and quality, and that can really impact the final flavor of this salad. Depending on the flavor of your parmesan and whether you're including the olives, you will likely need just 1/2 cup of parmesan. However, if your parmesan isn't quite as flavorful, you might need the extra bit of salty-tang from the full 3/4 cup of cheese. We recommend that you start with the more modest 1/2 cup and see how you like the taste – you can always add more if you choose. Also, to make this salad recipe truly vegetarian, be sure to select a parmesan cheese made with non-traditional enzyme alternatives from microbes or fermentation, rather than the traditional rennet.
Balsamic vinegar: For the purposes of presentation, white (or golden) balsamic yields a prettier and more vibrantly colored salad because it doesn't tinge the other ingredients with the brown color of typical balsamic vinegar. If regular balsamic is all you have on hand, though, definitely just use that – the salad will still be lovely and will taste just as fabulous.
Make-ahead option: This salad can easily be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 93Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 214mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.
This salad is inspired by the flavors of the Orzo with Everything recipe I found years ago in America’s Test Kitchen “Cook’s Country” magazine. I’ve made a lot of changes, both to make my version healthier (by subbing quinoa and adding spinach, and upping the sun-dried tomatoes while cutting back on the fat from the parm, pine nuts, olives and olive oil) and also played with the aesthetics (adding reduced-fat feta to help provide a salty kick for those who don’t like olives and using white balsamic for a prettier presentation). Still, the original recipe is fantastic in its own right and definitely deserves a nod as the recipe that inspired me.
62 thoughts on “Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad”
Been craving quinoa and this looks like a fun new recipe to try! So colourful! I bet the taste is fresh and yum yum!
Lol – yep, Dolly – the taste is definitely yum yum! It’s as vibrantly delicious as it is colorful. People truly do beg for this recipe! 😉 ~Shelley
What a vibrant salad. It looks really hearty, and healthy too.
It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? It definitely draws everyone’s eye from amongst all the salads on a potluck table. And the flavors are just as bold and vibrant. Delicious, filling and hearty yet light … it’s an awesome quinoa salad. I hope you’ll love it, Dannii! ~Shelley
I love the Mediterranean flavor combinations and this looks like the perfect side salad with quinoa and feta! Although, I think I’d just eat it as a main course.
It’s such a delicious quinoa salad, Aimee – you’ll love it! And I totally agree … I eat this as a main course just as easily as for a side dish. With all the quinoa in there, it’s got plenty of protein. Especially great for a lunch that leaves you full, but also feeling powered up! ~Shelley
This salad looks delicious. My husband and I are just beginning our clean eating/weight loss journey and definitely want to incorporate quinoa. Any chance of getting the nutritional information for this dish?
Hi Carrie! First off, I’m so excited for you and your husband on your new quest to eat healthier, and I’m honored that you’ve turned to some of our recipes to help! 😀
Here’s the scoop about nutrition information on our site:
We’ve debated since the beginning of this blog whether or not we should supply nutrition info (and we address it in our FAQ section here:http://twohealthykitchens.com/about/). Especially with Gretchen’s master’s degree in nutrition, she could easily have calculated that manually – plus there are loads of online calculators to use. However, for a variety of reasons, we’ve decided over and over again not to do that. One big reason is that we generally don’t specify exact brands (although on some occasions we need to), so the final nutritional profile of a recipe can vary widely, depending on the purchasing decisions our readers make. In the end, it could almost be a bit misleading to quote nutritional info, if readers make significantly different purchasing choices than we did in testing. Although that problem wouldn’t be a big issue with this specific quinoa salad recipe, it could be for a lot of other recipes on our site. For example, the final nutritional profile of our most popular recipe ever – our very simple 3-Ingredient Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos – could vary tremendously (particularly, in this case, the sodium) depending on which taco seasoning and which salsa someone purchases.
My best suggestion would be to use your favorite online nutrition calculator, and plug in the exact brands you use to get the most accurate information. Also – do you subscribe to our newsletter? We recently sent out a whole list of different recipe calculators in our newsletter, a few weeks ago. Too long to publish here (this is already such a long answer! ? ), but shoot me an email if you’re interested, and I can send that along for you!
Also … having said all of this … I want you to know that we get questions like this from readers fairly often. We conducted a reader survey at the beginning of this year, and one of the questions we asked was about whether readers would like to see nutrition information – and based on the responses we got from that survey, we are once again re-evaluating this very good question and exploring how we may be able to offer nutrition information in a way that we can feel good about – a way that’s helpful and not potentially misleading. So stay tuned …
Thanks so much for reaching out to us! And good luck to you and your husband on your healthy eating and weight loos journey! I hope you both have a wonderful week! ~Shelley