With Summer right around the corner, make sure you make the most of it’s bountiful produce and try this Tomato Quinoa Salad with a Zhoug Style Dressing! Fluffy quinoa is tossed with juicy tomatoes and sweet red onions then dressed and coated in a bright and punchy Zhoug inspired sauce. Enjoy as a light side salad or serve it up with some extra protein like chopped chicken or a can of chickpeas for a healthy and filling meal. | Gluten Free + Vegan
Sweet, spicy, zesty and bright – just a few ways to describe this Tomato Quinoa Salad! Between the juicy diced tomatoes and the sweet and punchy red onions and the herb and chili packed Zhoug dressing – this salad has a LOT going on and I am here for it!
Who’s with me?!
How to Make this Tomato Quinoa Salad
The prep for this salad can easily be broken down into four main stages:
- Cook the quinoa
- Dice the veggies
- Blend the sauce
- Bring it all together
Before you get started with anything I recommend you begin with the quinoa.
Cooking one cup of quinoa will take you about 15-20 minutes which is the perfect amount of time to prep everything else for this salad. As a general rule of thumb you need about twice as much liquid as you do quinoa. In this case: 1 cup of dry quinoa needs 2 cups of water. Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil then simmer on low until all the water has been absorbed.
A couple of tips for cooking your quinoa:
- Cook the quinoa in vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you don’t need this recipe to be vegan or vegetarian). The stock will infuse your quinoa with even more flavour than water making for a more flavour packed salad.
- Leave the quinoa uncovered as it cooks so that the liquid can evaporate in to the air. I find this makes quinoa more fluffy and less mushy.
Once cooked, fluff up your quinoa with a wooden spoon then remove the pot from the heat source. Sit it aside and let it rest while you prep your salad if you haven’t finished the remaining prep yet.
The quinoa doesn’t need to be fully cooled before mixing your salad together. I recommend working with warm quinoa as it’s more receptive to soaking up all those bright and zesty flavours.
Veggie & Dressing Prep
There’s not much that’s difficult about the veggie and dressing prep as it’s really just a matter of dicing and blending. That being said I’ve got a few tips for you to keep in mind for a better salad.
- Cut out excess moisture. Tomatoes contain a lot of water that has the potential to make salads a bit too wet. As you prep your tomatoes, cut them in half, scoop out the watery seeds and then dice into small pieces. This is completely optional but it will help your salad keep an extra day or two in the fridge.
- Adjust the heat level of the dressing. Two jalapeños can be a lot for some. If you’re spice averse I recommend only using 1 jalapeño instead of 2. I also recommend making sure that you remove all the seeds and the white membrane inside the chili that the seeds come from – this is where the most of the spice from a chili comes from. If you cut out that white part you also cut out a lot of the spice.
- Hate cilantro? If you’re somebody who thinks that cilantro tastes like soap then you can ditch that herb and swap it out for another one. Swapping out the cilantro for more parsley is a quick and easy swap. If you want to play around with the flavours more you could also try using mint or basil instead. Mint can be quite strong so only use about half the amount of mint than you would cilantro.
Should I rinse my quinoa first?
It’s up to you. While it doesn’t hurt to rinse your quinoa before cooking it, it may help (a bit).
Un rinsed quinoa usually comes out with a slightly firmer, more al dente like texture. It also might be a more earthy/nutty in flavour.
Many recipes recommend rinsing quinoa first to wash away any bitter flavour from its natural coating, saponin. That said, quinoa often comes pre-rinsed so you might not need to. I also hardly ever wash my quinoa because I’m lazy and figure I’m saving a bit of water. In my personal experience I’ve never noticed a bitter taste, but that could just be me. So again – your choice!
How long will this tomato quinoa salad keep?
Because this isn’t a leafy salad this will happily keep in the fridge at least 3-5 days. In fact, I find that it’s even better on the second day after all the flavours have time to really mesh and meld together. With that in mind this makes for a great make-ahead salad to keep handy for lunches and dinners.
This salad keeps well in the fridge making it a great recipe option if you’re into food prep. You can enjoy it warm, cold or at room temperature. Make it over the weekend and enjoy it throughout the week.
You can bulk it out with some extra protein by adding something like fish, chicken or chickpeas or enjoy it as a side dish to larger meal like with this Chermoula Chicken. Additionally, you can serve it salad with a side of hummus, falafel and flatbread to bulk it out even further.
Don’t forget to #asaucykitchen on instagram if you try this Tomato Quinoa Salad! We love seeing what you make! You can also post your pictures to my facebook page!
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 cup | 180 g dried quinoa
- 2 cups | 480 ml water
- 4 large vine tomatoes
- 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
- 3/4 cup loosely packed or 1 small bunch fresh cilantro
- 3/4 cup loosely packed or 1 small bunch fresh parsley, washed
- 2 tablespoons | 30 ml fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 green jalapeños (if you're averse to spice only use one)
- 2 fat cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons | 15-30 ml water
- 3 tablespoons | 45 ml olive oil
- Quinoa: Add the quinoa to a medium sized sauce pan and cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the pot to a boil over a medium-high heat then reduce the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the heat source and set aside.
- Tomato & Onion: Quarter the tomatoes, scoop out the watery seeds then finely dice into smaller chunks. Transfer to a large salad bowl along with the diced onion and toss with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Zhough Dressing: Place all of the ingredients needed for the dressing in a food processor or blender and pulse until mostly smooth. Taste and season with salt and lemon juice as needed.
- Assemble: After it's finished cooking, add the still warm quinoa to the bowl with tomatoes and onion. Toss together until well combined. Add a 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing to the quinoa and mix together.
- Serve: Serve with the remaining dressing on the side to add more as needed and enjoy.
- You can swap out the cilantro for more parsley.
- Salad will keep 4-5 days kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
- For an extra boost of flavour: cook the quinoa in vegetable (or chicken if not vegan/vegetarian) stock.
- If you don't like spicy foods only use 1/2 - 1 jalapeño and make sure to scoop out the seeds and white membrane inside the chili pepper.