Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This Mediterranean quinoa salad is a staple side dish in my home. It’s incredibly fresh, light, and healthy. Using whole-grain quinoa, salty Kalamata olives, and crumbles of feta, I know this will be a favorite you and your family will love it as well.

Here, I’ll fill you in on the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet and of course share this flavorful and vibrant recipe for Greek quinoa salad.

Note: This recipe contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Affiliate links are clearly marked with an asterisk (*).

Greek quinoa salad

Nutritional Benefits of Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (and the Mediterranean Diet)

This health-promoting dietary pattern has been a top cardioprotective diet for YEARS! Endless numbers of studies have been conducted on the health benefits of Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet has a hefty reputation. And that’s a good thing! According to U.S. News and World Report, the Mediterranean diet is the top ranking diet in many categories this year (2024). Here are a few of them:

As you can clearly see, this diet is popular! And for good reason too.

It’s no rumor that those living in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea end up living longer and healthier lives compared to other places around the world (1,2). They also have fewer cases of chronic disease and cancer (2).

Although other factors such as physical activity and regular socialization are also a crucial part of this population’s lifestyle, their “special” dietary pattern can’t be ignored.

What Is Included In the Mediterranean Diet?

This type of diet emphasizes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, and olive oil. The use of herbs and spices are also a regular practice, adding wonderfully complex flavors to dishes.

For protein sources, fish and seafood are allowed at least twice a week. And poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are allowed in moderation.

Foods to limit include red meat and sweets which are only eaten on special occasions.

You can even include some red wine in the Mediterranean diet.

For more information and to view the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, check out Mediterranean Diet For Beginners (Get Started Today!) or learn about what Mediterranean pantry stables you can keep in your kitchen.

Ingredients

This Greek quinoa salad is packed with nutrients. With a whole grain base (quinoa) and all those vegetables, this is a side or main dish you can feel good about eating. Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need:

Quinoa– a high-protein whole grain that will provide vital nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, and fiber.

Spinach– this green leafy vegetable has plenty of vitamin K, calcium, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Tomatoes– I love cherry or grape tomatoes for this recipe. I simply cut them in half so they are bite-sized and voila! This also adds potassium, lycopene, and vitamin C.

Red bell pepper– this gives some crunch to your quinoa salad and provides vitamin C and potassium.

Red onion– adds some bite along with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Cucumbers– a purifying vegetable in Greek and Mediterranean dishes that provides potassium, vitamin A, and other trace minerals.

Kalamata olives– another staple in the Mediterranean diet, these olives add healthy fat, and a salty flavor boost that lends to the addictive-nature of this Greek quinoa salad.

Feta cheese– feta crumbles adds calcium but also sodium to this salad. If you’re sensitive to sodium or have high blood pressure you can omit or add less feta.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad ingredients

How To Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

If you haven’t followed many of my recipes until now, you’ll soon figure out that I love quick and simple recipes. I’m a busy mother, so I don’t have a lot of time to prep and cook meals for my family after coming home from work.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for getting this whole-grain salad on the table FAST:

Step 1: Cook and Cool the Quinoa

If you plan on making this quinoa salad, you’ll want to allot enough time to preparing and cooling your quinoa.

It’s important to use room-temperature or cold quinoa so that your feta cheese doesn’t melt when adding it in. I recommend cooking your quinoa earlier in the day or the day prior.

Most packages of quinoa will have cooking instructions included. However, if they do not, you’ll want to:

  1. Rinse your quinoa under running water for about a minute.
  2. Then bring 1 ¾ cups of water to a boil for each cup of quinoa used.
  3. In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil.
  4. Add your quinoa, cover it, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Let it cook for about 15 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Step 2: Chop Your Veggies

Next, you’ll need to chop up all the vegetables for this Mediterranean quinoa salad.

I chop everything into equally uniform bite-sized pieces which makes it easy to eat and looks beautiful. You can dice the vegetables however you want- large chunks, small pieces, whatever you like!

Step 3: Make the Greek Dressing

Then prepare the Greek dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients into an airtight jar or container with lid. Shake it all up and your ready to start assembling!

Expert Tip: When I’m in a rush, I use bottled Greek salad dressing in place of the homemade Greek dressing. I LOVE Ken’s Steak House Greek Dressing* (affiliate link) for this Mediterranean quinoa salad. Trust me, it’s amazing!

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

Once everything is prepped and ready to go, all you need to do is mix it all together!

In a large mixing bowl, add your prepared quinoa, chopped vegetables, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese.

Pour the Greek dressing all over everything and stir to combine. That’s it! Now eat it up and enjoy!

Recipe FAQs for Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Can I Use Different Vegetables?

Of course. You can use any veggies you like although to stick to a more Mediterranean taste, I prefer the ones used in this recipe.
Some other suggestions may be to try different colored bell peppers, other varieties of tomatoes, different types of olives, or another green leafy vegetable in place of spinach. You could even add some mushrooms for a more umami taste and some texture.

Can I Make This Recipe Vegan?

Yes. The only ingredient preventing this one from being vegan is the feta cheese. You are more than welcome to add a vegan cheese or omit the feta cheese.

How Long Does Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Stay Fresh?

This salad is best eaten within 1-3 days. Although if kept refrigerated in an airtight container, the prepared salad keeps well for up to about 5 days.
I find that if you go much longer than 5 days, the spinach gets too wilted.

Want More Mediterranean Diet Recipes?

Check out some of these Mediterranean-inspired recipes to boost health and longevity.

Mediterranean quinoa salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This is the perfect side or main entrée salad when you want something fresh, vibrant, and light to eat. Using many fresh vegetables and whole grain quinoa, this is an antioxidant-packed, anti-inflammatory salad. You are going to be addicted to Mediterranean salad and are sure to get lots of compliments!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8
Calories 259 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 large mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 1 cup dry quinoa prepared according to package directions
  • ¾ cup baby spinach chopped
  • ¾ cup grape tomatoes halved
  • ¾ cup red bell pepper chopped
  • ¾ cup red onion chopped
  • ¾ cup cucumber chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
  • ½ cup kalamata olives chopped

For the Greek Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp granulated stevia sweetener
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions. Or bring 1 ¾ cups water to a boil and add your 1 cup of dry quinoa.
  • While the quinoa is cooling, chop the spinach, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, and cucumber. Then roughly chop the Kalamata olives and crumble the feta. Set aside for now.
  • Prepare the Greek dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a glass jar with lid or other container with tight-fitting lid and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE.
  • Assemble the salad by placing cooled quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Add all of your chopped vegetables, Kalamata olives, and feta.
  • Pour over the homemade Greek dressing and gently mix to combine.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Additional Suggestions:
If you’d like to try other vegetable add-ins for this recipe, I suggest:
  • Kale in place of spinach
  • Other olive varieties
  • Any tomato varieties (homegrown tomatoes would be amazing!)
  • Different colored bell peppers or a combination
  • Other varieties of cheese such as part-skim mozzarella or a vegan cheese 
  • Other Greek or olive oil and vinegar-based dressings
Hint, Hint: when I’m short on time, I really like Ken’s Steak House Greek Salad Dressing* (affiliate link).
 
Nutrition Information Per 1 Cup Serving (Makes 8 generous servings): 
259 calories, 18.7 gm fat, 3 gm saturated fat, 22 gm carbohydrate, 4.7 gm protein, 3.8 gm fiber, 266 mg sodium, 349 mg potassium, 5 mg cholesterol
Keyword mediterranean, quinoa, salad, vegetables, vegetarian

Share With Me: Do you have a favorite Mediterranean recipe you enjoy regularly? Have you tried this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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