You finally bought Quinoa! Now what?
Quinoa Salad.

The fella: What is it?

Me: Quinoa.

The fella: What is it?

Me: Quinoa. It’s an ancient grain. All the people who eat things we’ve never heard of eat it.  You know.  Hipsters.  ‘Sposed to be better for you than rice or potatoes.

The fella: But what is it?

Me: Don’t worry about it. It’s round rice. Just eat it.

The fella: Round rice? That’s fun.

1/2 hour later …

The fella:  That was gross.

Me:  Yup.

The fella:  What was that again?

Me:  Gross.

That’s the approximate conversation from a few years ago when I made Quinoa for the first time. It was also the last time I made it until last year when we underwent the dreaded, asshead, whole foods, takes 17 hours and knocking a cow on the head to make dinner, “meal plan”. Not a diet. It was a “meal plan”.

The meal plan included a recipe for Stuffed Peppers made with Quinoa instead of rice.   I gave them a shot, they were gross and I put the Quinoa back in the cupboard just behind the 7 year old “Family Pack” of Lipton Cup-a-Soup but slightly in front of the cardboard box of “potatoes”.

Then last summer we went for dinner at a local restaurant which served Quinoa salad.  Out of the blue that’s what the fella ordered for an appetizer.  He must have been having one of his adventurous days.  Or he thought Quinoa was French for chocolate cake covered with chocolate sprinkles, filled with chocolate pudding on a bed of Chunky Monkey ice cream.   He loved it (the Quinoa salad).  He loved it a lot.

He loved it so much it led to an assault.  More on that later.

Seems all those years ago I was making quinoa.  I was making it gross.

Quinoa’s kindda like rice.  Or tofu.  You need to add stuff to it to make it more than just a lump of something on your plate.

As we were leaving the restaurant the fella saw a man with food stains all over his clothes walking in.  Now, I would have assumed this guy was just a messy eater.  The fella assumed he was a “cook”, and grabbed the fella by the lapels and said “HEY!  Are you the one griddling up stuff?”  Or something like that.

Quite possibly on the verge of making another stain on his clothes, Jeff Crump, owner of several high end restaurants around town said … Yup.  I’m the owner and chef.


Jeff:  Um … er … um … well there’s quinoa and some lemon and some oil and um …

While the shake down was going on, I had my iPhone out recording all of the ingredients.

A few days later I scratched out some semblance of the recipe and we’ve been eating it ever since.   It’s not as good as the one in the Bread Bar restaurant but it’s good enough for you people.


So … do you have yourself a bag of Quinoa with no idea what to do with it?

Do this …


Gather your Ingredients …

1 cup Quinoa

1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar

3 Tbsps Olive Oil

2 Green (spring) Onions (sliced thin)

1 Cup drained and rinsed black beans (scant)

1 Cup drained and rinsed chick peas (scant)

1 – 2 jalapeno peppers (diced super-fine)

Lemon (for juice)

Feta Cheese

Ingredients 2


Cook the quinoa.  For this recipe I just use the immersion method.  Dump your cup of Quinoa into slightly salted boiling water (uncovered).  The amount of water doesn’t matter.  4 cups or so.  Simmer for 13-14 minutes.  Drain.

Add quinoa to a big bowl, mix in vinegar, olive oil, green onions, black beans, chick peas, jalapeno peppers and a big squeeze of lemon juice.  Crack in some pepper, add a sprinkle of salt (not too much) and top with feta cheese.  Taste and adjust salt if needed.  (remember the feta cheese is really salty, so you may not need to add salt at all)


Quinoa Salad Mixed


The first day this salad tastes O.K.  The second day, it tastes like something that would prompt  you to grab someone by the lapels and scream “WHAT’S IN THAT QUINOA SALAD?!?”


Quinoa Salad Spoon


Jeff Crump by the way, is the chef who graciously let me use his pizza dough recipe on this site.  The one from his fantastic Earth To Table cookbook.  Jeff Crump has no idea my fella was the one that accosted  him for his organic, Quinoa and fresh feta salad recipe, and I plan to keep it that way.

Quinoa?  What’s that.

Amendment: Many people are commenting that Quinoa needs to be rinsed. While that used to be true, it no longer is. Most commercially processed Quinoa now comes with the bitter, outer shell already removed. Unless you’re buying your Quinoa from a local farmer or sometimes in bulk, you do not need to rinse and soak your Quinoa.


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  1. MsMarmie says:

    Fantastic! I happen to have a 3year old bag of Quinoa in my cupboard and I’m going to use it with this recipe! Looks great! Thanks!

  2. Amanda Pedro says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I need to add more stuff to it. But if you really wanna crank up the *WOW* factor, roast the quinoa first! Yes, dry pan roast like you would do with pine nuts. When it starts to crack or pop, you’re done. It adds a nuttiness to the flavour. yumo.

  3. Susan says:

    Funny if I can’t pronounce it I don’t eat it! Pass the dill pickle chips!:-)

  4. Tanya says:

    Yum, that looks delicious.

    I also make it for breakfast. Red or white quinoa. Cook it, drain it and while warm add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, raw flaked almonds or any nut hanging around in the cupboard (pistachios are really good) and a dash of low fat cream. Makes a nice change from boring old cereal and warms your tummy on a cold morning.

    • Karen says:

      Tanya – That sounds good. Pretty much anything drizzled with honey or maple syrup sounds good. ~ karen

  5. Nicole2 says:

    Will they eat it? I play that game with my family every day. I should start my own video feature.

    Kidding aside, we love quinoa hot as a side dish cooked in broth with just a bit of olive oil, but I am very eager to try this quinoa salad, especially now that summer is basically here. I love a cold, meatless meal in the summer. I’m also looking forward to making your delicious salad with the candied pecans and brie and strawberries. On a super hot day, I love making gazpacho too. So yummy and healthy!

  6. Shari says:

    I’m skeptical, but I’ll dust off my box of Quinoa and give your recipe a try.

  7. Ann says:

    I have heard that rinsing the dry quinoa before throwing it in the water helps take away a bit of the natural bitterness that it sometimes has. I think I will go ahead and buy some this week at the market and give this salad a try.

    But like the others, I am stuck on the chocolate!!

    • Karen says:

      Ann – Really no need to rinse Quinoa anymore. Manufacturers have prerinsed it. When it was less popular, even just a few years ago it needed to be rinsed. But for the most part unless you buy it from a farmer, it does not. ~ karen

  8. Kate says:

    It’s also great used in meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs (or dry oatmeal as I use) because it boosts protein and blends well with the other meatloaf ingredients. Love quinoa!

  9. Keith says:

    I’ve been eating quinoa for years. It is great in a cold salad, as a pilaf, or as a “burger” – and, for a grain, very high in protein as well. Sometimes people may not like the taste because they forgot to perform a very simple first step: wash the grains in a fine strainer. Quinoa, as a smart grain, has a naturally occurring saponin (soap-like chemical) covering the seeds as a natural pest deterrent. It’s harmless to humans, but may impart a slightly bitter taste. Just rinse off the quinoa before you cook it as directed. You may see a slight bit of foaming when you do this – that’s the saponins being washed off. With quinoa becoming more common, a lot of manufacturers are selling their brand as pre-washed, so you have less to do. Try red quinoa – very good too.

    • Karen says:

      Keith – Yup. I mentioned the saponin thing in a previous comment when someone mentioned you need to rinse it. I’ve found you really don’t. I’ve bought expensive, specialty, organic quinoa and store brand quinoa lately and neither needed to be rinsed or soaked. That’s why I didn’t mention the rinsing and soaking in the post. Nothing turns someone off a food faster than extra work. ~ karen

  10. Mary says:

    I’ve got a thing for the quinoa salad at the Big Carrot: I love the Bread Bar… I’m heading down to Locke St. to try that salad! It’ll be a salad off.

  11. Kathryn says:

    I just eat when I would be eating rice but often over-cook it. But I grew up in rural Nova Scotia where my mother proceeded to blacken all our food, to make sure it was cooked, and frozen veggies were a delicacy. Can’t wait to try this recipe though. My favorite part? how you got the recipe!

    Oh Alisha ~ I’ll be trying those too :) Thanks.

  12. Elle says:

    MY fella just looked at your quinoa salad recipe and said “beans, chickpeas, spring onion, jalapeno, feta – it all looks good. Except for the quinoa”…

    I might still make it one of these days for dinner.

  13. Laurel says:

    I love quinoa – eat it all the time. One important point about preparing it – you need to RINSE it thoroughly before cooking it to rinse off the yucky tasting saponins! Also, I like to soak it and even let it sprout a little, which increases the nutritional content exponentially. And put in some good sea salt too – then you will love the taste even more. I like mine mixed with lemon, olive oil, garlic, chopped green onion, parsley, chopped red pepper, tamari soy sauce, walnuts and cranberries – delish! Sometimes I throw in some lentils or other legumes too, which adds fibre, protein and complex carbs.

    • Karen says:

      Laurel – I researched about the whole “rinsing” and soaking thing. I used to do the same, and it was one of the things that stopped me from making Quinoa. Apparently now you only need to rinse (to get rid of the bitter outside shell, saponin) if you buy your Quinoa in bulk or from a local farmer. It seems to be true. Any Quinoa I’ve bought (either fancy organic stuff or regular store brand) and haven’t rinsed or soaked lately has been fine. No bitterness or weird taste at all. ~ karen!

  14. I really like quinoa. It is a great base for salads but I like it for breakfast too. Check out this recipe.

  15. Laura Bee says:

    Thank you Karen! I’ve been making it for my 18m old daughter with peas & tofu & she loves it. Now I can make it so we can actually enjoy it. Once again, you have improved my life.

  16. Deborah says:

    How in the world did you get the fella to eat that stuff??!! I have LOVED Quinoa for years and my hubs will not go NEAR the stuff. I do make a pretty mean Quinoa salad myself, created one specifically for a website which included avocado – now THAT is something to grab someone by the lapels about :P P.S….try the red quinoa, looks WAY prettier in salads than the boring ol’s beige stuff.

  17. Karen, help me! How do you pronounce Quinoa?

    I always said it as I read it: quin-oh-ah. But my fancy-pants cousin says keen-wah.

    If I’m going to start cooking this stuff I need to know how to say it!

  18. Oh hun, quinoa in salad… that´s very brave of you.

    What you need to introduce with quinoa is strong, round and nearly earthy tastes. Imagine quioa mixed with buckwheat noodles, sprinkled with walnut oil and roasted pine nuts, or roasted cashew nuts. Add some sweet soy sauce and then, add some hot, garlicky mushrooms on top of that dish. That´s delicious.
    Or a casserole of garlicky ( what can I say, you can take a gal outta Paris but you can´t take Paris outta gal. Every dish must be soaked with garlic. No exeptions. Moving on. ) chicken roast with veggies, add some quinoa with sweet & chili sauce. There are myriads of ways to use quinoa and by now, my pallet does even not consider it vile anymore. But I still wouldn´t risk a salad with quinoa. It´s got that strong, earthy taste to it so to me, it waltzes better with hot and flavorsome dishes.

    • Karen says:

      Weirdrockstar – LOL. Quinoa salad is one of the most popular quinoa dishes out there! It’s not like I made it up in some wild kitchen culinary experiment. :) ~ karen

      • Oh I know it is common and for the dear life of me it bums me endlessly every time I see a quinoa salady thing. I´m not at all blaming you for inventing something this… boistrous. I´m just admitting your are very brave. As are the rest of the quinoa salad eaters. Which are numerous, I gather.

      • Karen says:

        LOL. It’s good. Honestly. It works. :) The guy we copied the recipe from trained with Heston Blumenthal among others. So … clearly weird .. but clearly skilled. ~ karen

      • …prrr´aps this one should instead take a deep breath and hone some insane quinoa salad skillz.
        Nah, I´ll leave it for the brave & Hestons.

  19. Gayla T says:

    I was recently challanged on this blog to try Quinoa and bought it and the recipe on the box was very similar to this. It called for rice vinegar which I love so thought I’d try it and it was very good……good enough to make it again. I also put in black olives but other than that I think it’s just what you have. Now I’m hungry for it again but I just made a huge batch of ambrosia salad which is about as far from this salad as you can get. You know, the whip topping with pineapple, fruit cocktail, coconut and all that other equally exotic and healthy stuff. One of those recipes I became proficient at in jr high school, right after no bake chocolate cookies. I usually serve this with tuna cassarole. Would you like to come for dinner? No? Really? Well, dang!

  20. Valentina says:

    I love quinoa, I’ve discovered recently and I cook it at least once a week! My favourite way to eat it (so fa) is to make some “balls” (as for meatballs, but made of quinoa), with a mixture of quinoa, feta cheese, tuna, one egg, oregano. I make some balls, roll them in breadcrumbs and cook them in the oven. They taste awesome!
    Regarding the cooking method, for what I know, it should be rinsed and drained first, and then cooked in double its volume of water (1 cup of quinoa > 2 cups of water). This way it absorbs all the water and there is no need to drain it after cooking!

  21. I LOVE quinoa! Although I do agree it tastes rather gross by itself. One of my favorite quinoa salads just has quinoa, cucumbers, celery, red pepper, black beans, apple cider vinegar, and a few other spices & dash of dijon mustard…it’s to die for, and even fiance approved!

  22. Jill says:

    Your salad looks delish! Quinoa also makes a great tabbouleh as well, with green onions, mint, pine nuts, fresh parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil.

  23. Carla Barnes says:

    Yes, I do have quinoa in my cupboard. It has been there for a very, very long time. I look forward to tasting it in this salad!

  24. Alisha says:

    That looks yum. If you need a new quinoa adventure, you REALLY need to make these quinoa burgers!

    Trust me …

    • Karen says:

      Really? I’m not sure about that recipe. But … since I don’t know you at all, I trust you. I’ll give em a shot. Maybe even tomorrow. ~ karen!

      • Alisha says:

        They’re DELICIOUS! And my boyfriend wants them on weekly rotation.

        But the less you know about me the more you’ll trust me soooo let me know what you think!

  25. The recipe looks yummy, but I got distracted by the description of the chocolate cake covered in sprinkles, that’s filled with chocolate pudding on a bed of chunky monkey ice cream. Please, please tell me you’re going to show us how to make that.

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