This healthy Peruvian Quinoa Salad is reminiscent of a Middle Eastern tabouleh, with tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives mixing it up with quinoa instead of bulgur. A simple and refreshing lime and cilantro dressing, sliced avocado, and queso fresco make it a nutritious lunch or light supper. Delicioso!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
I love a good traditional tabouleh salad, and I thought it would be fun to put a Peruvian spin on it. The obvious change is the substitution of quinoa for the bulgar wheat.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- red onion - As I've often mentioned, I take the time to soak my red onion in salted ice water for 15-30 minutes. This removes some of the sharpness of the raw onion.
- quinoa - Choose any color! I like to mix it up a bit.
- tomatoes - Choose any tomatoes. I found these tiny micro tomatoes, and didn't even slice them in half like I usually do.
- olives - I love black Peruvian olives in Peru, but I don't love the imported ones I find in Texas. I usually use kalamata olives.
- cucumber - If I have a thin-skinned English or Armenian cucumber, I don't peel it.
- cheese - I typically use queso fresco as it reminds me of Peru. Cotija and feta are good options as well.
- avocado - It's optional, and I serve it on the side in case there are leftovers.
- olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Prepare the onions - Thin slice the red onion, then add them to a bowl of ice and water with a palmful of salt. Soak 15-30 minutes. Drain and rinse.
- Prepare the quinoa - Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve to remove any saponin (bitter coating). Cook according to package instructions. Cool completely.
- Prepare the dressing - Add lime juice and zest, olive oil, cilantro, and salt in a small food processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Taste for seasoning with salt and pepper, then set aside.
- Assemble the salad - Add the cooled quinoa and all other salad ingredients to a salad bowl. Toss with the dressing. Serve with sliced avocado if desired!
About the quinoa: You can use any quinoa. Follow cooking instructions on the label. Saponin is the ingredient in quinoa that leaves a soapy, bitter taste. A thorough rinse before cooking removes it. Some brands pre-rinse, but I always take this step just in case. Drain it with a fine mesh sieve as the grains are very small.
Is quinoa gluten free? Quinoa is naturally gluten free, but check your product. It can be cross-contaminated.
How long can I keep this quinoa salad in the refrigerator? I love it the next day for lunch, as the flavors marry so well. Any longer than that, the veggies lose their crispness.
Why should we love this Peruvian quinoa salad? 1. FLAVOR. 2. It's healthy! 3. It's quick and easy. 4. It's vegetarian and gluten free.
🍷 Pairing Suggestions
On photo day, I seared ahi tuna that I briefly marinated in ají amarillo and lime juice. The meal was so simple and yet absolutely delicious!
If fish isn't your jam, try this Peruvian quinoa salad with grilled Peruvian chicken heart anticuchos or butterflied and grilled Peruvian-style chicken. Elevate your menu with a Peruvian cocktail like a chilcano de maracuya or a non-alcoholic chicha morada. Avocado and cherimoya ice cream is a fitting finish!
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