My quinoa salad with chickpeas and vegetables is one I think you will love.
It’s a healthy salad that is perfect any time of the year.
The base of the salad is quinoa. If you aren’t familiar with quinoa you will want to add it to your eating plan when you find out more about it below.
Quinoa has a crunchy texture and a bit of a nutty flavor. It pairs well with pretty much all vegetables and takes on other flavorings easily. Here is a bit of information about quinoa:
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a flowering plant that is part of the amaranth family. It is not technically a grain, but is thought of as part of the grain family and is used the same way we use other grains like rice.
The seeds of the quinoa plant contain more protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins and dietary minerals than many other grains.
Quinoa is thought to have originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America. It has been around as a food source for thousands of years – first to feed livestock 5,200–7,000 years ago. Human consumption of quinoa began 3,000–4,000 years ago in Peru and Bolivia. (1)
The plant thrives at high altitudes and produces seeds that are high in protein.
Quinoa scores relatively low on the glycemic index (GI) at 53. That means it may not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, so that fact plus the high protein makes quinoa a great food for diabetics (1).
Quinoa seeds are flat and oval. The different varieties of quinoa produce colors that can range from yellow, or pink to black. The different varieties can taste slightly different as well, but, like rice, quinoa has a fairly neutral taste and takes on the taste of other flavorings really well.
That means it’s perfect for things like this salad. The lemon and olive oil vinaigrette that is mixed with this quinoa salad gives it a wonderful tart lemon flavor that is fantastic with the quinoa.
Quinoa is gluten-free so it is suitable for people who are sensitive or allergic to gluten or have celiac disease.
Because it is gluten free this salad is perfect to have on a buffet table, picnic or BBQ feast if you have guests who need to avoid wheat and flours.
This salad is so delicious though that those who turn down their nose at gluten free will also love it.
How To Cook Quinoa for this Quinoa Salad
Cooking quinoa is very easy. It’s just like cooking white rice.
Boil it in 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa you are using. I don’t add salt to the water as I would with rice. Just boil the quinoa for about 20 minutes, first on high to bring it to a boil, then on medium low to allow the quinoa to absorb the water. It should soak up the water, just like rice does when it’s cooked. Then set it aside and fluff it up with a fork before you use it.
Quinoa is used much the same as we use other starches like rice, potatoes and pasta.
Boiled quinoa can be added to salads like I’ve done here or eaten as a side dish. It’s great as a side dish for saucy recipes. The sauce poured on the quinoa is delicious.
For the most part you can use quinoa much like you would use rice. It can be used to thicken soup or eaten for breakfast as a porridge. Again, quinoa’s gluten free status means it is a real bonus in all of it’s forms for those who need to eat gluten free.
The quinoa seeds can also be sprouted, ground, and used as flour or popped like popcorn. If you don’t find quinoa in your grocery store, you will find both quinoa and quinoa flour in pretty much any bulk produce store (like Bulk Barn in my area).
Cooked quinoa is a rich source of manganese and phosphorus, and a moderate source of dietary fiber, folate, and the minerals iron, zinc, and magnesium. It is also higher in protein than other grains we consume. So it’s a very healthy food to add to our diets on a regular basis.
The recipe calls for cooked chickpeas. I often use canned chickpeas and they work really well in this recipe, but you can certainly use leftover cooked chickpeas instead.
Also of course, feel free to add other vegetables to the salad. The mixture of vegetables like cucumber, onions, peppers and tomatoes is delicious with the quinoa and lemon vinaigrette, but adding in other vegetables like carrots, zucchini or red onions would work well too.
Choose your cheese. I love the salad with bits of goat cheese throughout, but Feta works really well too. If you use the goat cheese, just remember that it’s a delicate cheese. Add it just before you serve the salad and be very gentle when you mix it in. You want small pieces of goat cheese, not a goat cheese smeared salad.
Feel free to add more herbs. I love chopped parsley in this salad but it would also taste fantastic with chives, fresh oregano, basil or even chopped fresh dill.
Please Note: I know that the recipe as it reads on the page has cheese in it, so it is not vegan. I have marked it as a great vegan recipe though because all you have to do to make it vegan is leave the cheese out.
Enjoy. If you make this recipe I would love to hear how it worked for you. Please leave me a note in the comments section below the recipe and let me know what you think.
Chickpea Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked. Regular, red or multicolor varieties are all fine.
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, or yellow, chopped
- 1 cup goat cheese, or Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
- 3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil, (approximately)
- 2 lemons, juiced, or more if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and set aside.
- Place the cooked quinoa into a large bowl.
- Chop cherry the tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and parsley. Add them to the quinoa and mix together.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well. Add the salt and pepper to your taste. Taste the salad and add more lemon juice or salt and pepper to taste if you think you need them.
- Add the chickpeas, crumbled cheese and parsley. Mix the salad well but carefully, taking care to leave the cheese in little chunks.
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