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Oct 10, 2008 09:33 PM

Help me make my quinoa "pasta" salad more exciting, please!

I am going to a work potluck at my new job. I signed up to bring a salad, and I see nobody else is bringing a grain-based salad. I have a recipe for a Quinoa Corn Salad, with quinoa, corn, a red onion, jalapenos, a red pepper, cilantro, scallions and chives in a dressing that is basically just lemon and lime juice. I would like to modify the salad a bit, and I'm thinking of adding a bit more vegetables and adding something to the dressing. Ideas?

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  1. you can add chuncks of manchego or queso blanco. Sauteed mushrooms would be a nice addition. Try grilling the corn, jalapenjos, scallions, and red peppers. The dressing...ok try a viniagrette made with say garlic, cumin, chili or chipotle powder, honey, lime juice, lime zest, and light olive oil. If you want to take it another direction try using roasted corn, roasted red peppers, scallions, herbs and feta cheese.

    There are also a bunch of grains other than quinoa you may want to consider Farro (aka spelt), bulgar, barley, brown rice. Or a pasta like whole wheat cous cous.

    Cooking quinoa can be tricky are you comfortable with it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: keith2000

      I eat a lot of quinoa so I won't have any problem preparing and cooking it properly. I particularily want to use quinoa for this salad because I try to eat wheat-free whenever possible, and one of my co-workers was diagnosed with celiac disease a few weeks ago and I know she's having a hard time finding things to eat.

    2. Add some pomegranate seeds, or even goji berries if you've got it.

      To spice up the dressing, try adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce and dijon mustard.

      1. Nice of you to consider your coworker. My son is mostly wheat-free, and it's always a treat when there are different things for him to try when we are out.

        Sounds like you have a nice balance of flavors for the quinoa so far. You could also add a bit of garlic, either roasted or minced raw, to kick up the flavor. (If you go with minced, just a little goes a long way, as it gets stronger as it sits). Roasted peppers--either red bell or poblanos, would be good, and you could add a few black beans that have been simmered with a little cumin, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. I know you don't need the protein from the beans, but their flavor blends beautifully with corn and all of the other ingredients. Halved cherry or grape tomatoes would add some freshness, and I agree that olive oil, cumin and chile in some form would add a nice touch to the dressing and complement the citrus. Queso fresco or mild feta would be tasty if you aren't feeding vegans, but the salad would also stand on its own.

        Whatever you end up doing, please report back. It's always great to have more quinoa options. Have fun!

        1. I make something similar, but I leave out the red onion. I use roasted corn, roasted edamame, fresh roasted red pepper, cilantro, black beans, and pitted shriveled black olives. (The kind you buy from the bulk section.. Greek olives maybe?) I dressit while it's hot and add some fresh spinach. For the dressing- lime juice, cumin, salt, black pepper, white pepper, olive oil. If you make it the night before and refrigerate it, make sure to taste it again and adjust the seasoning. I find that it usually needs more salt and pepper.

          Another recipe- though totally different from your original- cooked quinoa with walnuts and dried cranberries, with a dressing of soy sauce, teriyaki, roasted garlic rice vinegar, and black pepper. My husband can eat bowls and bowls of this stuff.

          4 Replies
            1. re: cheesecake17

              I'd been thinking of roasting the peppers but I was worried that the color would then seep into the quinoa and make it kind of blotchy looking. I was also thinking of adding a poblano. I could roast the red onion and the peppers to mellow them both out and then people would just have to live with a blotchy salad!

              1. re: Jetgirly

                I usually just pat them dry before adding into the salad. Or you can just bring the roasted vegetables in a separate container and throw them in an hour before. That way it'll have the 'roasted' flavor, but the other ingredients will still shine through.

                1. re: Jetgirly

                  Don't worry about a blotchy looking salad it is really unlikely that would happen.

                1. re: jfood

                  Here's a super easy, but very yummy, recipe for Quinoa Salad that I made up and posted in my meal planner database:



                  * 2 c. quinoa, dry
                  * bottle of roasted red peppers (or roast your own!
                  ) * 3 lemons
                  * 1 can tuna
                  * 1/4 c. olive oil
                  * salt/pepper
                  * savory
                  * basil
                  * cayenne
                  * 1 c. feta cheese


                  1. Steam the quinoa (with 4 cups water) then mix up all of the ingredients and enjoy.