The Mediterranean diet has been a top cardioprotective diet for YEARS! Endless numbers of studies have been conducted on the health benefits. I’ll fill you in on a few of those deets along with how to make this fresh and vibrant Mediterranean quinoa salad below.
Nutritional Benefits of Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (and the Mediterranean Diet)
The Mediterranean diet has one 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 areas this year (2022). Here are a few of them:
- #1 Best Diets Overall
- #1 Best Plant-Based Diets
- #1 Best Heart-Healthy Diets (tied with the Ornish Diet)
- #1 Best Diabetes Diets
- #1 Best Diets for Healthy Eating
- #1 Easiest Diets to Follow
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. They also have fewer cases of chronic disease and cancer.
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. This diet also uses many herbs and spices to add 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, I always suggest the Oldways website at: https://oldwayspt.org/resources/oldways-mediterranean-diet-pyramid. Make sure to download a printable PDF of the pyramid while you’re there.
Nutritional Benefits of Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This 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.
The quinoa is a great source of energy and has potassium, phosphorus, and fiber.
And the colorful vegetables that you add provide so many beneficial vitamins and minerals.
The spinach has plenty of vitamin K, calcium, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
The red bell peppers provide vitamin C and potassium.
Red onion lends more potassium and some magnesium and phosphorus.
And the cucumbers give you more potassium, vitamin A, and other trace minerals.
The kalamata olives and feta do add sodium to this salad however you may add less if you are sensitive to sodium. Olives also add lutein and zeaxanthin as well as heart healthy monounsaturated fats. And the feta cheese will give you a calcium boost.
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 human being, so I don’t have a ton of time to prep and cook for my family when I come home from work.
This recipe does require a little more time, due to the fact that you prepare the quinoa ahead of time. I recommend doing this the day before or at least an hour before assembling the salad. The goal here is to not have the quinoa be too hot when adding the feta cheese, otherwise the feta will melt.
After preparing the quinoa, you need to chop up all your veggies and set them aside.
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!
Next, put the prepared quinoa in a large bowl. Add your chopped vegetables along with the sliced 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
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.
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 all together.
This salad is best eaten within 1-3 days when its at its freshest. 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 and the tomatoes get mushy.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
For the Salad
- 1 cup dry quinoa prepared according to package directions
- ¾ cup baby spinach chopped
- 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 garlic minced
- 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, bell pepper, red onion, and cucumber. And roughly chop the kalamata olives and crumble the feta.
- Prepare the Greek dressing by combining all dressing ingredients to 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 bowl. Add all your vegetables, kalamata olive, and feta.
- Pour over the dressing and stir to combine.
- trying kale in place of spinach
- using other olive varieties
- using other tomato varieties
- trying different colored bell peppers or a combination
- trying a different type of cheese such as part-skim mozzarella or a vegan cheese
- using another type of dressing
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!
For more recipes perfect on the Mediterranean diet, try these recipes:
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Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetitics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran is honored to have the opportunity to educate and promote the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.