International Quinoa Salad

by on July 6, 2006
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International Quinoa Salad

Whenever my husband sees that I’m cooking quinoa, his eyes light up and he asks if I’m making “The Salad.” It’s our favorite quinoa dish, but for a while I made it only on special occasions because I couldn’t figure out how to make it without using olive oil. I was just afraid that it wouldn’t be as tasty–and who can stand to see a favorite dish diminished? But I was determined to try to lighten up the recipe so that we could enjoy this fantastic salad more often, and I’m proud to say that I’ve done it. I think that this recipe is so good that you’ll never miss the olive oil.

It’s based on a recipe by Lorna Sass called Quinoa Salpiçon, a sort of South American version of the Middle Eastern grain salad tabouli, with lots of parsley as in tabouli but using quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. I like to think of it as a blend of cultures, a little of the Old World mixed with the New, though even the “new” ingredients date back thousands of years. Quinoa was first cultivated 5000 years ago. It was a staple food of the people in the Andes Mountains in Peru and Bolivia and was considered a sacred grain of the Incas. Chickpeas were first cultivated around 7000 years ago in Turkey, but their use spread from there to western Europe, and they’ve become an important part of the diets of many cultures.

I took the original salad and added a few ingredients–the corn and chili powder to enhance its South American flavor and the chickpeas to complement its Middle Eastern roots. And, of course, I’ve made it oil-free. The result is wonderful–tiny pearls of quinoa drenched in tangy, chili-seasoned dressing, with cubes of avocado that melt in your mouth and cucumbers and chickpeas for a little bit of crunch. It’s a perfect marriage of ingredients–and cultures.

International Quinoa Salad

(printer-friendly version)



1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed very well
2 1/4 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium-large tomatoes, finely chopped
kernels of 2 ears of cooked corn (about 1 cup)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup parsley — minced
1/3 cup fresh mint — minced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced (reserve a few slices for garnish)


1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (NOT lemon)
3 tablespoons vegetable broth or bean cooking liquid
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper


To cook the quinoa in a pressure cooker, place it and the water, garlic, and salt in the cooker and lock the lid. Over high heat, bring to high pressure and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Fluff the quinoa and allow it to cool. (To cook it on the stove, use 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add the quinoa, cover tightly, reduce heat, and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff and cool.)

Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and mix well. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled. Taste before serving, and add more lime juice as necessary (you want it to be tangy). Garnish with avocado slices and serve. Makes about 8 servings.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s) | Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Nutrition (per serving): 239 calories, 55 calories from fat, 6.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 366.2mg sodium, 627.7mg potassium, 38.8g carbohydrates, 7.7g fiber, 4g sugar, 9.1g protein.

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna October 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I feel compelled to comment since I've made this salad about 10 times in the past year. In fact, I'm eating it right now. I add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and more pepper to the dressing, but other than that I stick to your recipe. It's so delicious! Also, great for bringing to parties where meat-eaters reign supreme. Oh, and I often take it to work for lunch, served over greens, with a little extra lemon-olive oil dresing. mmmm!
Thank you!


2 Mandee December 5, 2009 at 4:30 pm

This is one of the best salads I've ever had. All of the flavours work so well together and it's very filling. Loved it!


3 J January 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I can't wait to try this…in fact, I'm going to try to serve it at a party for 150 people… How early can I make it and store it before the party?


4 SusanV January 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Wow, 150 people! You are braver than I am. ;) I think it should be alright to do everything except the avocado a day or two ahead. To go longer than that, I suggest chopping everything but not adding the dressing until the day before. Whatever you do, don't add the avocado until just before serving or they will get brown.

Good luck!


5 Anonymous April 10, 2010 at 8:20 am

With all the rave reviews, I am going to try this as our side dish/salad for the dinner party tonight. As I do not have the chipotle spices, I intend to use Thai SriRacha pepper sauce. Excited to see how it turns out! Thanks Susan


6 meena May 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

great first time making quinoa… i cooked mine in veg. broth and i think i put too mine got a little mushy..but good flavor..added extra chilli for more kick..thx for a great lunch


7 margie May 31, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I tried the recipe…it was awesome


8 KD June 11, 2010 at 7:40 am

I really love your recipes! Do you have the nutritionals for the International Quinoa Salad? I eat gluten free and have been able to find so much on your web site. You are a life saver.


9 SusanV June 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

Hi KD! I just updated the recipe with the nutritional info. You may have to refresh the page in your browser to see it. I hope you enjoy the salad!


10 KD June 11, 2010 at 10:31 am

Thanks Susan. You are a gem! Can’t wait to try it.


11 Julie June 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Sounds wonderful, but I have an aversion to bitter heat…do you have a pepper suggestion to replace the jalapeno? I like spicy and hot, but can’t stand bitter.


12 SusanV June 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I never thought of jalapeno as bitter, so maybe I’m not the best person to answer this question. The best option would be to leave it out and add whatever kind of spicy pepper or hot sauce you like to taste.


13 Lacy June 21, 2010 at 10:48 am

Thank you for this recipe! I made the salad for a father’s day celebration yesterday and it was a hit!! Lot’s of prep work, but it all paid off. I think next time I will add more dressing. I ended up juicing a few extra limes on the fly for a bit more kick.


14 Shilla June 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I finally got around to making this and wish I had tried it sooner! It was fantastic. Even my picky husband who claims he “hates quinoa and chickpeas” had 2 whole bowls for dinner! The only thing I’ll change next time is instead of the jalepeno, I’ll just add a tsp of asian chili/lime paste. Thank you for your creativity!


15 Stacey July 5, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I made this for 4th of July. Omitted the chickpeas (we had baked beans already) & used anaheim chili, mint, oregano & tarragon since I was out of parsley. Everyone loved it, including the meat-eating, wanting to try more vegan food family I had over. The kids all ate it too! It’s a keeper! I was glad to have a little leftover for lunch today. Thank you!


16 Mathieu Langlois July 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

I made this yesterday… This is the real deal! I tried eating (and cooking) quinoa before, but didn’t really like the taste. So this time, I added the salt in the cooking process. I know the salt is optional, but I think it makes a HUGE difference. Thanks for that recipe Susan!


17 SusanB August 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

This was soooo gooood!! Another staple added to my repetoire!


18 Azahara August 20, 2010 at 6:14 am

Summer in a bowl! The cucumber and mint give this salad a great cooling effect. And you can never go wrong with the combination quinoa + corn + chickpeas. Loved it!

Thanks you, Susan!


19 Anissa August 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm

The best! My friend and I started walking and make our Friday night walks extra enticing by making a healthy dinner. This was our first Friday night walk and dinner…and it was SO AMAZING! We’re still talking about it (and eating it) today. I love it chilled. Cooking the corn on the cobs makes it so fresh. The dressing is delicious. No olive oil needed…This is a festival of flavor :)


20 Erin August 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Susan – I found this recipe by Googling “quinoa recipes”. It’s quite possibly the best dish I’ve ever prepared. EVER. I can’t wait to share it with everyone I know – I’m sure it will become my go-to potluck contribution. I also look forward to trying more of your recipes. Glad to finally find some healthy, vegan food with FLAVOR! Thanks much.


21 heather October 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm

i discovered your site on friday and made two of your recipes this weekend. i’m not vegan NOR fat-free, but make a strong effort to eat healthy, organic and locally (ie as much as my wallet allows). my weekends start out with saturday coffee and excitedly mulling through recipes to make for the week. sundays, the fiance and i hit the market. i usually cook two large batches of whatever for breakfasts and lunches throughout the busy week. this week’s menu was your pesto mashed potato stuffed portabellos, but added red a generous amount of red pepper flakes ( delicious) and the international quinoa salad. i goofed a bit on this one. it was the first time i’d made (or eaten) quinoa and it came out great (and tasty – i love this!), but i figured it wouldn’t be flavorful enough for us (we have a VERY high spice tolerance being from the southwest). i added cayenne and jalapeno with seeds, which wasn’t too spicy, but stole from the other balanced flavors. i omitted corn, which i didn’t have, but i’m sure the sweetness of it would have solved the problem. instead, i added sweet red bell peppers and the tiniest amount of agave nectar. BOOM! quinoa salad saved. thank you for these recipes! alicia silverstone can stuff it!


22 SusanV October 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

My goodness, heather, I hope you mean she can stuff it into a bell pepper or something! I’m not sure what prompted your remark, but I’ve got only respect for Alicia Silverstone and think she’s done a lot for veganism and for animals. But I’m glad you enjoyed the recipes–nice save on the quinoa salad.


23 Mary November 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

LOVE this salad and it has become a weekly staple. I’m a student and this is a great healthy choice I can pre-make and take with me for a few days.
Some alterations:
1/3 the amount of veggie broth and 1 Tbsp of olive oil (not fat free, I know), and 1/2 Tbsp of chili flakes to the dressing,
Cilantro instead of mint,
Green bell pepper instead of jalapeno adds a nice crunch. :)
Your site is great and I can’t wait to try more!


24 Anita November 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Why not lemon juice? I don’t have any limes, so I’m thinking of trying it with lemon anyway.


25 SusanV November 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Lemon will be good. Lime is just a little better. :)


26 Fiona November 16, 2010 at 8:56 pm

OMG this was soooo good, one of my new favorite dishes! I am going to try it again without using any salt and using salt free broth and see if it is still as good.


27 Fiona November 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I made this again without any salt and used salt free broth. Although it was still good, the flavor did suffer. (Pretty much expected.) I added just a tiny bit of salt after trying half a bowl and it is good enough for me to eat on my own, but if I was serving to company I would all the salt back and use broth with salt. I prefer this dish warm instead of chilled, so I mix in the tomatoes, avocado, scallions, cucumber, mint, parsley, and jalepeno to the quinoa when the quinoa has just finished cooking and then add heated chickpeas and corn to it. I also use grape tomatoes in this dish.


28 Svetlana March 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Absolutely loved this salad. I did swith a few ingridients,well more then a few.I used a lemon even though I was warned not to,lol, but thats all I had. Lentils instead of chikpeas and some other veggies and I did used some olive oil cause didn`t had veg. broth. Still it came out great,fresh and pretty filling.Another keeper for me.


29 carla c April 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I officially found my salad for this summer!
I just made a mistake but with no bad results; I forgot to buy tomatoes and parsley and for some reason i got confused with the greek salad so I ended mixing black olives.
The combination of flavors make this salad not boring at all (jalapeno and garlic touch.. sooo good!). I made it try to someone who hardly ever eat salads and ended asking for some more.


30 Mikayyla April 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Do you have to use a pressure cooker?


31 SusanV April 30, 2011 at 9:19 am

No, you can cook it in a regular pot. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.


32 Frances Burke May 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

This sounds delicious! Can you use RED QUINOA?


33 SusanV May 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

Sure! Red quinoa makes a beautiful salad.


34 Eileen June 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm

This is by far the BEST salad I have ever eaten! Absolutely delicious!


35 D'Ann September 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Hi there. Your recipes look great and I’m looking forward to making them. I have one question on cooking quinoa. I’ve never made quinoa before, does it have to be cooked in a pressure cooker? Is there another way? Thank you.


36 D'Ann September 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Just getting familiar with your website and saw that someone asked the same question so I have my answer. Thanks.


37 SusanV September 9, 2011 at 7:41 am

Glad you found the answer! I now think that it’s a little silly to cook it in the pressure cooker when it only takes 15 minutes in a regular pot. I get it boiling and then turn the heat very low and cover the pot.


38 Bridgett March 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

I am wondering if the scallions in your recipe are scallions (mild small onions with flat side)or green onions ( I see green onions in your picture) thanks!


39 Susan Voisin March 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

Maybe you’re thinking of shallots? Scallion is just another word for green onion, which is what I used.


40 Casey March 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I love this recipe, but I cook for one and I hate to waste food, even though it still happens way too often (I buy fresh produce that only comes in large quantities, especially alfalfa sprouts, but can never eat all of it before it goes bad) and as far as I know, no veggie broth comes in 3 tbsp amounts, I do know one that has four individual packets of 1 cup, but what can I do with leftover broth, does freezing it work?


41 Liz April 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

Oh, how delicious it all looks. Will you come and be my mom? (I’m a grown up but still…..)


42 Lorna Beck April 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I made a similar salad to this some time ago, I am thinking of putting some acocado in the dressing and whizing it in the blender before pouring it over the salad.


43 Laurie April 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I made this today for part of our Easter dinner! It was delicious. I did have to use canned garbanzos so didn’t use the bean sauce & used just a touch of olive oil. I also used Red Quinoa since that was what I had on hand. Thanks for the recipe!


44 Nanci June 26, 2012 at 6:33 am

Made this yesterday to rave reviews! I did not have cucumber, so I threw in some celery and green bell pepper. It was delicious. Then, my neighbor came over last night and brought me cucumbers from her garden, so i added it to the leftovers. Now it’s even better! I will make this again and again, I’m sure. I think it would be good with green peas too. I love salad lunches in the summer, and lunch is always the biggest challenge for me in the vegan lifestyle. I can only make tofu sandwiches so many days a month without a mutiny! Thanks again.


45 Michelle July 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Thanks! I made this salad today and it was great! Instead of Chipotle pepper I used a Cajun spice mix and it was lovely


46 Eve August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

I love this salad. I made if for July 4th and again last night for a potluck, where it was loved by all (and appreciated by the gluten-free folks!). I leave out the chipotle pepper based on my own personal tastes, and I am amazed at what a great oil-free dressing this is! No one would suspect it’s oil-free, I think. There’s a whole lot of flavor in this salad. It’s a keeper for me for sure!


47 Marty January 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I have never cared for olive oil on my quinoa – thanks for taking some of the guesswork out!


48 Casey January 16, 2013 at 1:12 am

Mmmmm, having this for dinner tomorrow!


49 Bianca March 30, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Added this to the usual Easter fare and got nothing but compliments all around! :D


50 Katie May 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Hi! I want to try making this tonight for a dinner party. My problem is that I hate mint and cilantro (which I read was a good sub for the mint)….can this be left out without the flavor suffering too much?


51 Susan Voisin May 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Yes, it should be fine without.


52 Katie May 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Awesome, thanks…can’t wait to try it! :)


53 LLHB May 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I cannot stand cilantro either,tastes like soap!! so I double up on the fresh parsley instead and this dish always is all gone at potlucks!! I cannot get mint, unless I pay a lot for it


54 Joy August 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm

This is my first comment here although I’ve made quite a few of your dishes and love them all. I’ve been making this salad for years now. It is always extremely popular everywhere I bring it, with veggie/grain lovers or not. And it is extra amazing being that it is so delicious without using any olive oil which I almost always use in salads. It’s flavor delivers so well from the tangy lime juice and interesting herbs and pepper and chipotle that no oil is needed, making it the perfect healthful food. SOOOO good.
Thank you!!


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