A delicious, healthy and texture-rich quinoa salad made with the freshest seasonal ingredients! Summer Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Fresh Mozzarella is a cold quinoa salad that’s vegetarian, easily vegan and gluten-free.
Quinoa Vegetable Salad is Perfect for Summer
Getting enough salad this summer? This Quinoa Vegetable Salad is sure to cool you off during the hottest months. Delicious as a side, lunch or dinner, this salad is hearty, versatile and so satisfying.
Quinoa is an easy way to incorporate superfoods into your diet as it’s a protein-packed powerhouse that’s a complete protein. This means that it includes all nine essential amino acids, which is a good thing for those limiting or excluding animal protein.
The interesting thing about quinoa is that it is not a grain; rather, it’s a seed of a plant that’s related to spinach and Swiss chard. It’s relatively inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk and is widely available.
This quinoa salad features summer favorites like zucchini, peas, tomatoes and bell peppers. Use fresh shelling peas or frozen, whatever fits your schedule and/or farmer’s market finds.
Shelling peas take a bit of time, but fresh from the pod, those pease are so sweet, plump and juicy! I timed myself to see how long it would take to shuck 1 lb of shelling peas: 9 minutes. A bit longer than frozen, but worth the effort if available.
How to Make Summer Vegetable Quinoa Salad
This quinoa salad is versatile in that is is perfect for vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free diets. Simply omit the mozzarella for a dairy free salad or add your favorite vegan mozzarella cheese.
The dressing is made with a combination of garlic, balsamic vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. Talk about tangy! Here’s how to make it:
- First, prepare the quinoa by rinsing then cooking it in water. Fluff with a fork and pop in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes. This step can be made a few days ahead if needed
- Second, blanch your fresh or frozen peas in boiling water. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking Drain and set aside. Frozen peas are a fabulous stand in for fresh, and that I use often.
- Third, place your veggies including the cooled peas in a large bowl.
- Fourth, add the cooled quinoa to the veggie mixture and season with pepper, thyme (if using), parsley or basil, and stir in the mozzarella.
- Last, pour in the homemade dressing, toss and chill!
About Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh mozzarella is delicious in this cold quinoa salad and comes in many different shapes/sizes to suit your cravings. Ovolini is a variety for slicing and a good choice for Caprese salads and pizza. Bocconcini and Ciliegine are smaller, spherical forms with Ciliegine being the smaller of the two and is about the size of a small cherry tomato.
Ciliegine is the variety I use in this recipe due to its small size. I quarter the little mozzarellas in order to distribute their texture and flavor more evenly throughout the salad.
If using dairy free mozzarella, tear it in small bite size pieces.
A Few Quinoa Salad Recipe Notes
- Blanching the peas yields beautiful, vibrant green peas and makes them smooth and silky. Use fresh or frozen peas in this salad.
- Meal Prep: Cook the quinoa up to two days in advance.
- This quinoa salad recipe is best enjoyed on the same day it’s made. Zucchini is a high water content veggie, as are the tomatoes. Once the salt hits the veggies and its had time to set… the salad starts to get a bit soggy. Too, the bright green peas tend to get a bit dingy on day two. If serving the following day, prep all the ingredients then assemble before sharing/enjoying.
- Make it Dairy Free! Simply leave the mozzarella off the salad or use your favorite dairy free mozzarella torn into bite size pieces.
More Quinoa Salad Recipe to Love
- Quinoa Black Bean Mango Salad
- Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Grilled Panzanella Salad with Fresh Tomatoes
- Shaved Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dressing
Summer Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
For the Salad:
- 3/4 C (160g) Quinoa white or multicolor, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 C (350g) Water
- 1 C (140g) Frozen Sweet Peas or 1 lb fresh shelling peas works here too, yielding about 1 C shelled.
- 1 1/2 C (225g) Cherry Tomatoes halved and/or quartered, about 1/2 - 3/4 pint
- 1/4 C (70g) Purple Onion minced, about 1/4 of an onion
- 1 C (125g) Yellow Bell Pepper diced small, about 1 pepper
- 1 C (125g) Red Bell Pepper diced small, about 1 pepper
- 1 1/2 C (170g) Zucchini diced small, about 1 zucchini
- 3/4 C (125g) fresh Ciliegine Mozzarella quartered (see note* for vegan option)
- 2 - 3 Tbs Fresh Parsley chopped fine OR use fresh torn basil
- 10 grinds of fresh Pepper
- 3 - 4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme Leaves and Flowers for garnish (optional)
For the Salad:
- In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Place rinsed quinoa in boiling water, turn the burner to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir, making sure all the water is absorbed. Cover and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork then pop the quinoa in the fridge to cool, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times to release steam.
- While the quinoa is cooking/cooling, shell your fresh peas or measure out the frozen peas. Set aside. Fill a small pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Plunge the peas (fresh or frozen) into the boiling water and cook for one minute (no need to bring back to a boil). Strain then rinse the peas with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
- Prepare the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, and parsley by chopping and dicing, placing each in a large bowl where all the mixing will happen. Add the peas, parsley and pepper.
- Remove the cooled quinoa from the refrigerator and place in the mixing bowl with all the veggies. Set aside.
For the Dressing:
- In a small lidded jar, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic oregano and salt. Shake until an emulsion is formed. If too thick, add a splash of water to thin. Shake again.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with fresh thyme leaves (if using), and more parsley or basil. Enjoy on the day made for the freshest taste and preservation of pea color (they tend to get a little dingy on day two), but it will store in the fridge for up to three days.