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This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is the perfect summery dish! It's fresh, satisfying, and takes less than 30 minutes to make too.
I went to a potluck last weekend and brought along my Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. It was a total hit and I couldn't believe how fast it disappeared!
Oh, and it was mostly non-vegans digging in, so it was a proud moment for me.
I received lots of requests for the recipe that evening, so I figured I'd share it with you guys, too. You'll definitely want to bring it to your next barbecue, potluck, or picnic.
It's super easy, tasty, and inexpensive to make. Plus, it can feed a whole herd of humans!
And if you really want to impress them, you can bring along my Vegan Coleslaw and these Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes for dessert, too.
This dressing really brings out the flavors of the veggies and pulls everything together. Here's what you'll need and a few additional notes:
- Dressing Base - consists of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. I would stick to this combination, but you can alter the amount of each one to taste.
- Dijon mustard - adds a pop of zing to the dish. You can use regular mustard too.
- Maple syrup - agave is a great substitute, but you can use any sweetener you have on hand.
- Seasonings - dried oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper
- Garlic - fresh is best, but you can replace it with ¾ teaspoon of granulated garlic.
The remaining ingredients are basic and easy to find at your local grocery store. Here's what you'll need:
- Extra-firm tofu - this is used for the vegan feta, but you can skip this step if you find a store-bought variety. Violife and Follow Your Heart are both delish!
- Quinoa - you can also use couscous, rice, barley or grain of choice.
- Red Onion - for a milder flavor, you can use green onion instead.
- Cucumber - you can use mostly any vegetable in its place such as jicama, zucchini, carrots, etc.
- Jarred Roasted Pepper - you can roast your own (like I did in my roasted red pepper salad) or you can use raw peppers.
- Kalamata Olives - you can us any variety of olives that you like. Capers are a nice replacement, too.
- Fresh Basil - parsley or mint will work well here.
How to make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
First, you'll need to make the zesty dressing. Just whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until combined and adjust flavors to taste.
Now, you'll need to crumble the tofu (make sure it's pressed first). Lightly sprinkle it with salt and pour 1-2 tablespoons of dressing on top. Gently work it in with your fingers to coat. Let it marinate while you finish the rest.
Cook the quinoa, dice the onion and cucumber, cut the pepper into short strips, slice the olives, and chop the basil. Now you're ready to put it all together (let the quinoa cool first).
Add the quinoa, onion, cucumber, olives, pepper, and basil in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over everything and gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Top with the marinated tofu crumbles when you're ready to serve.
Quinoa Salad Success Tips
Here are some quick tips to ensure success:
- I press the tofu and chop the veggies while the quinoa is cooking and it takes about 25-30 minutes to complete. To save time, you can press the tofu in the fridge overnight.
- You can buy jarred roasted peppers that are pre-sliced to make things even easier. I buy these. Some of the strips may be a little long, so you might want to cut them in half.
- The dressing might taste a little tangy or salty, but it will be spread over a lot of quinoa and veggies, so keep that in mind.
This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is so easy to customize, so feel free to omit ingredients that you don't like, and add more of what you do.
You can add things like artichoke hearts, capers, pine nuts, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, mint, sliced almonds, dried fruit, vegan parmesan, and more.
If you're not into quinoa at all, but love the flavors of this recipe, you may like to try my Mediterranean Pasta Salad. It's just as tasty!
Yes, this will give it time to marinate and the flavors will pop even more. Just place it in the fridge for 1-2 hours and taste again before serving.
If needed, add a few squeezes of lemon, and a splash of olive oil to moisten it up. I recommend keeping the vegan feta separate until ready to serve.
I’d love to hear from you
If you make this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
More side dish recipes to try
If you would like to try more dishes like this, here are a few reader favorites to check out:
Vegan Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- ½ block extra firm tofu , pressed & crumbled (*see note)
- 1 ½ cups quinoa , uncooked
- ½ cup red onion , diced small (sub green onion)
- 1 large cucumber , diced
- 12 oz jar roasted red pepper , cut into short strips (sub 1 cup diced bell pepper)
- ½ cup kalamata olives , halved or sliced
- ½ cup fresh basil , chopped (sub mint)
- ⅓ cup olive oil , extra virgin
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons dijon mustard (sub yellow)
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure maple syrup , or preferred sweetener
- 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- Fresh-cracked pepper , to taste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (optional)
- In a medium pot, add the quinoa to 3 cups of low-boiling water (add a pinch of salt). Put lid on top. Cook until liquid is gone and quinoa is fluffy. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes to cook. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Set aside to cool. (You can spread it out on a tray to cool faster)
- In a small-medium bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Adjust flavors as needed. It might taste a little tangy or salty, but it will be spread over a lot of quinoa and veggies, so keep that in mind. Set aside.
- Lightly sprinkle the crumbled tofu with salt, and pour 1-2 tablespoons of dressing on top. Gently work it in with your fingers to coat. If you'd like a tangier flavor, add a small amount of lemon juice. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the cooled quinoa, onion, cucumber, olives, roasted pepper and basil. Pour the dressing over everything and gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Top with the tofu crumbles when you're ready to serve.
- You can also place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to let the flavors marinate a little more (keep tofu separate until ready to serve). Taste again before serving. If needed, add a few squeezes of lemon, and a splash of olive oil to moisten. You can top with vegan parmesan, pine nuts, more basil and fresh-cracked pepper. Enjoy! Holds up nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Pressing Tofu: wrap tofu in a few paper towels and place on a flat plate. Add another plate on top of tofu and add a heavy pan or book on top. Let it drain for 15 minutes. You can also press it overnight in the fridge to make it even quicker. If you don't have time to press the tofu, just wrap the tofu in paper towels and gently squeeze out as much water as you can. Don't press too hard.
- To save time, you can roasted peppers that are pre-sliced. If some slices are too long, just cut them in half.
This is so good! I used Mint as that was what I had. I have been trying to incorporate more Quinoa in my diet. This recipe will make it easier.. Thank you.
Glad that worked out for you Gwendolyn. 🙂 Mint is a great alternative for basil. I have more quinoa recipes that you can hopefully try too.
I make this at least every other month. Is perfect for potlucks, easy lunches and always nice to have something cool when it’s roasting hot outside
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Hi Erica! We are so happy to hear that you love the recipe 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!
Wow! This was amazing! I added tomatoes and orange bell pepper, fresh oregano and mint. I couldn’t stop eating it!!! I was out of olives but next time will add them. I also used quinoa I had made with vegetable stock and carmelized onions. Thus is my new go to recipe for quinoa salad. Thank you!!
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Hi Allison! So happy to hear that you loved the recipe; those added spices and veggies sound delicious! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Made this for a potluck during a strike myself and fellow nurses were taking part in. Two nurses told me it was the best salad they'd ever had...and neither of them were vegan.
This is such a nice compliment! I'm so glad everyone liked it. Thank you so much. 🙂
This salad was delicious! I made a couple of substitutions for ingredients, as I don’t like olives so replaced with artichoke hearts and was trying to keep it soy-free, so I used chickpeas instead. But I followed the dressing pretty closely (just added a bit of thyme and a dash of garlic powder), and it was lovely. I will definitely make this again. It’s perfect for potlucks. Thanks for the great recipe.
Hi Sarah, I'm so glad you liked it! Thank you for making it and sharing your modifications. 🙂
I must say I never cared for quinoa even though its one of the best complete proteins. So I am always trying to find a recipe or different way of cooking it to I can pallet it better. I made this last night and wow it was great. I had leftovers and even put it in a tortilla and it was great too. Many Thanks!
Melissa, Potluck season is upon us and I always get a deer in the headlight feeling when asked to bring a dish. I love that this is fresh, seasonal, vibrant and hearty.