This healthy, low calorie Mint & Tomato Quinoa Salad is packed with tons of fresh herbs and veggies! It’s vegan, gluten-free, simple to assemble and has a nutrient-rich SECRET INGREDIENT that you won’t even know is there!
Just look at those bright colors. Sometimes I think I eat more with my eyes than my mouth… you? Look at those juicy ripe tomatoes and crisp cucumbers. This salad has an amazing flavor profile between the nutty quinoa, aromatic herbs like mint and parsley, zesty lime juice and just the right amount of spicy crunch from the red onion and garlic. Mmmmmm… YES PLEASE!
I love this salad because it is not only extremely tasty, but super filling! It’s very Tabbouleh-like in terms of taste and textural make-up. For those unfamiliar, Tabbouleh is a Levantine vegetarian dish that is served in the Middle East. It’s traditionally made with tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and cracked wheat, however, I decided make a gluten free version and use quinoa.I am a huge quinoa fan. Not only do you get the benefit of using a complete protein with this seed, but it’s also super hearty and has a nutty, almost earthy flavor that that I adore. Plus, it makes an awesome substitute for those on a gluten-free diet. Really, you can use quinoa in almost everything. From soups and salads, to baked goods or pancakes (try these yummy quinoa blender pancakes!) it is incredibly versatile!A couple quick things about quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”): It is an ancient grain and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This is awesome for vegetarians, or just for a quick and filling vegetarian meal option. It’s also high in fiber, calcium, vitamin E and B, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and various beneficial antioxidants. Sounds pretty amazing huh? It is. You’ll want to rinse it before cooking to remove any possible bitter flavor from the natural coating called saponins. Like many other phyto-compounds, saponins are produced by plants as a method of natural pest control. The bitter taste of these compounds makes the plant less palatable to birds, insects, and humans. So if you’ve tried quinoa before and been less than impressed, it’s very likely you just didn’t rinse it well to remove the bitter flavor from the saponins.
I prepare quinoa in a rice maker just like I do rice with a 1 to 2 ratio. Once cooked, make sure to chill the quinoa in the fridge before adding the fresh vegetables and other ingredients. What I love about this salad is that you can make it ahead of time and it only tastes better the longer the flavors meld as it sits in the fridge. Perfect for taking as a side dish to a summer BBQ or just lunch for the next day!
Also, you may be wondering what that nutrient-rich “SECRET” ingredient was that I mentioned earlier? Well, it’s SPINACH. Yep. A whole bunch of spinach, and you don’t even know it’s in this salad because it gets thrown in the food processor (love this one because it has a built in scraper so I don’t have to use a spatula to scrap down the sides) with the herbs (mint and parsley) and just adds a ton of flavor, texture and nutrition. I think this is pretty spectacular, because while I love spinach, the kiddos…? notsomuch. This quinoa salad hides it so well though that they don’t even know I’m sneaking spinach into their dinner. Fist bump!Print
Mint & Tomato Quinoa Salad
This healthy, low calorie Mint, Cucumber & Tomato Quinoa Salad is packed with tons of fresh herbs and veggies! It’s vegan, gluten-free, simple to assemble and has a nutrient-rich SECRET INGREDIENT that you won’t even know is there!
- Prep Time: 20
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Salad
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 small package cherry or grape tomatoes, halfed
- 1 small/medium cucumber, quartered
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 3–4 green onions, chopped
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- 1 handful fresh mint sprigs (4–5 sprigs)
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from 4 limes
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Cook quinoa according to instructions on the package, then set aside (refrigerate) to cool.
- Chop/prepare the tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green onions.
- Place the washed spinach, mint and parsley in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and combined.
- In a small bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Add the salad ingredients, included cooled quinoa to a large bowl, pour dressing over top and toss to combine.
As with all salads, I feel like the amount of dressing varies by taste, so add a little dressing at a time and continue adding until satisfied. If too dry, add more olive oil and/or lime juice.
Keywords: salad, quinoa, tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, healthy