Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Quinoa Salad

Summertime and an abundance of fresh produce is my favorite time of year.

And simple, healthy, refreshing, light dishes that take advantage of the season are the best.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Quinoa Salad (GF) - Trying to keep meals healthier & lighter? Make this easy, refreshing & satisfying salad!

The salad is hearty enough to fill you up, but still light so it doesn’t feel too heavy. When the weather is warm I crave lighter, fresh foods. I think I could live off tomatoes, cucumber, and watermelon.

In case you’ll soon be up to your eyeballs in tomatoes from your garden or your eyes are bigger than your stomach as you wander your local farmer’s market and you bring half of it home with you (guilty), this fast, easy, and satisfying salad will take some tomatoes off your hands.

Summertime is about being carefree and our meals seem to be much more of the wing-it and whatever-is-around approach. Mix-and-match the salad components based on what you have around.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Quinoa Salad (GF) - Trying to keep meals healthier & lighter? Make this easy, refreshing & satisfying salad!

I used grape tomatoes but any kind from cherry to diced heirlooms will work.

I have a thing for mini mozzarella balls because I think they’re adorable and mozzarella pairs wonderfully with tomatoes and basil, but crumbled feta, blue cheese, white cheddar, and almost any other cheese will work. It’s cheese. There’s never a wrong kind.

Don’t have quinoa but you do have brown rice or couscous? They’d be lovely.

Bulk up the salad and clean out your produce drawer in the process by adding diced zucchini, cucumber, yellow summer squash, avocado, bell peppers, carrots, peas, edamame, tofu, tempeh, or whatever sounds good.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Quinoa Salad (GF) - Trying to keep meals healthier & lighter? Make this easy, refreshing & satisfying salad!

The simple but flavorful rice wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper dressing adds some tangyiness and zing while staying on the mellower side.

The crisp juicy tomatoes, in contrast with the soft cheese, and the chewy quinoa creates so many textures in every bite.

The salad can be served immediately or allow the flavors to marry in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. Make-ahead meals are the best.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Quinoa Salad (GF) - Trying to keep meals healthier & lighter? Make this easy, refreshing & satisfying salad!

It’s just a good vegetarian, naturally gluten-free, and satisfying meal that’s easy.

Not turning on the oven and keeping things as easy as possible is the name of the game.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Quinoa Salad (GF) - Trying to keep meals healthier & lighter? Make this easy, refreshing & satisfying salad!

Print Print Recipe

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Quinoa Salad (gluten-free)

This simple, healthy, refreshing, light salad takes advantage of the bounty of summer produce. It's hearty enough to fill you up, but still light so it doesn't feel too heavy. Bulk it up and clean out your produce drawer by adding diced zucchini, cucumber, yellow summer squash, avocado, bell peppers, carrots, peas, edamame, tofu, or tempeh. The simple but flavorful dressing adds tangyiness and zing while staying on the mellower side. The crisp juicy tomatoes, in contrast with the soft cheese, and the chewy quinoa creates so many textures in every bite for a good vegetarian, naturally gluten-free, and satisfying meal that's easy.

Yield: about 8 cups, serves 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: about 20 minutes, for quinoa

Total Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa (start with 1 cup uncooked quinoa, 2 cups water, and cook according to package directions)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (substitute with any variety diced tomatoes)
8 ounces (about 1 cup) mini fresh mozzarella cheese balls (substitute with crumbled feta, blue cheese, or your favorite cheese)
about 10 to 15 torn basil leaves, or to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
pinch sugar, optional and to taste (brings out the flavor of the tomatoes and balances the vinegar)

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and place cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and toss very well to combine. Taste and see if salad needs more vinegar, salt, etc. and season or tweak accordingly. I found it needed a fairly generous amount of salt and a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors for my taste preferences.
  3. Salad can be served immediately or transfer to an airtight container, refrigerate, and allow flavors to marry for up to 24 hours before serving. Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days, noting that vegetables will release water as time passes.

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51 Responses to “Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Quinoa Salad”

  1. #
    1
    lisatberry — May 26, 2014 at 2:16 am

    This salad looks so light and colorful your pictures are gorgeous. Can’t wait as more and more produce becomes available. Just paid $14 for a bag of cherries because I couldn’t resist the first ones of the season. Summer just screams fresh salads and produce.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 26th, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Thanks for the compliments on the pics. I had fun taking these. It was so EASY to shoot. You’d think chocolate cake, drippy frosting, etc would be easy. No, nature like this, so easy :) And you’re nuts on the cherries…AND so am I. I have done that, in college, I didn’t understand what $5.99 per pound exactly meant until I was at the cash register. It was ramen noodles for the rest of the week but I adore cherries and will pay crazy prices for them, too!

      Reply

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    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — May 26, 2014 at 3:36 am

    This salad looks so fresh and simple Averie, I LOVE that! I need some more yummy and quick meals in my life, and anything with quinoa and fresh mozzarella is a winner! Pinned :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 26th, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Thanks for the pin & enjoy your holiday!

      Reply

  3. #
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    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — May 26, 2014 at 3:53 am

    This recipe is so, so perfect for summer. Love it!

    Reply

  4. #
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    Marie @ Little Kitchie — May 26, 2014 at 4:04 am

    Gorgeous! I could eat this every day!

    Reply

  5. #
    5
    Layla @Brunchtime Baker — May 26, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Another perfect spring/summer recipe!! This salad looks light and colorful.

    Reply

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    Natasha of Natashaskitchen.com — May 26, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Averie this is genius! It’s like a caprese quinoa! I want that for lunch and maybe dinner too! It’s funny I’ve probably pinned everything in your lineup… and this one’s next! ;)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 26th, 2014 at 5:25 am

      Thanks for all your pins – appreciated :) Have a great holiday!

      Reply

  7. #
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    Laura Dembowski — May 26, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Oh yes, I always buy too much at the grocery store or farmers market. You are so right that quinoa is the perfect vehicle for so many fruits and vegetables. It’s one of my goto dinners.

    Reply

  8. #
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    Ali | Gimme Some Oven — May 26, 2014 at 6:46 am

    So pretty! Love those bright caprese colors. :)

    Reply

  9. #
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    Chloe — May 26, 2014 at 7:20 am

    This salad looks delicious and is absolutely gorgeous!

    Reply

  10. #
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    CakePants — May 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

    This looks delightful! I love caprese salads, but they’re never quite filling enough for me as an entree – with quinoa, though, problem solved! Those tomatoes looks so bright and tantalizing…

    Reply

  11. #
    11
    Kristine @ Kristine's Kitchen — May 26, 2014 at 8:06 am

    What a light, fresh salad! It’s just gorgeous, Averie! This would be perfect for a hot summer day when you need something light and cool for dinner. Totally pinned!

    Reply

  12. #
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    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — May 26, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I am loving all the colors!! I am so craving mozzarella. I see another trip to my store in my near future!

    Reply

  13. #
    13
    Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) — May 26, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Holy cow Averie, this looks so gorgeous! I now am craving this!

    Reply

  14. #
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    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — May 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Gorgeous! My kids love cherry tomatoes and we are huge fans of quinoa so this salad sounds perfect for us! Pinned!

    Reply

  15. #
    15
    Denise @ Sweet Peas & Saffron — May 26, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Salads like this are my faaavorite thing about summer: so bright and fresh and flavorful, but so simple! Looks delish :) Pinned!

    Reply

  16. #
    16
    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence — May 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Gorgeous!! I’d love to dive right into this :) Happy Memorial Day!!

    Reply

  17. #
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    Paula — May 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    What a great summer salad! I always have quinoa and my basil plant is looking good. I’d love to try this and I have a feeling I’ll make it frequently once my tomatoes are ready! Hope you’re having an enjoyable weekend.

    Reply

  18. #
    18
    Iram — May 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Hi Averie,

    I hope you were able to enjoy the long wknd.
    We certainly did because I made 3 of your goodies:
    Thick and Soft Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, Mixed berry scones and the Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies. :) It was a sweet wknd here! All were hits.

    This salad looks so beautiful. You are a stunning photographer!

    Reply

  19. #
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    Carol at Wild Goose Tea — May 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    What a gorgeous looking salad—for real! Polk a dots galore. I love it. So carefree looking for sure. This salad is gleeful that it’s summer. I can’t wait to make and take this one! Wow.

    Reply

  20. #
    20
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — May 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I could live off of this salad all summer long, pinned!

    Reply

  21. #
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    Beeta — May 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Love this salad. The mozzarella is in the “indulgent” part of this meal, balanced out by the fresh and light tomatoes. Love!

    Reply

  22. #
    22
    Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking — May 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    I saw this salad on IG this morning and I immediately made a mental note to make it tomorrow! I’ll probably substitute the quinoa for farro because quinoa creeps my husband out (I know, weird right?).

    And these photos? Stunning. Seriously stunning, Averie.

    Reply

  23. #
    23
    Paula — May 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    This is a home run, Averie! Love caprese flavors and quinoa is my obsession! Can’t wait to make this!

    Reply

  24. #
    24
    tahnycooks — May 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I love coming across recipes that are easy, delicious and pretty! You nailed it!

    Reply

  25. #
    25
    Becky @ Fun Fresh Feast — May 26, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    This looks like the perfect picnic food. So fresh and simple. And so beautiful!

    Reply

  26. #
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    Johnna Green — May 26, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Your pictures make this look extra amazing! I’m going to try it this week. You should try this Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Chicken, Raisin, Apple, Quinoa Salad too. Here is the link
    http://www.inallofhersplendor.com/2014/03/20/the-goddess-quinoa-salad-recipe/

    Reply

  27. #
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    Brian @ A Thought For Food — May 27, 2014 at 6:54 am

    What a wonderful way to give the old tomato mozzarella salad a little twist! And I love that you use rice wine vinegar.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 27th, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Thanks, Brian! I love rice wine vinegar and vinegary stuff. That tang! Hope you had a great weekend!

      Reply

  28. #
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    Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron — May 27, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Oh these are definitely my favorite kinds of salads – quinoa and lots of veggies with cheese! Love this! And your photos are stunning. I hope you had a great weekend!

    Reply

  29. #
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    Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes — May 27, 2014 at 7:16 am

    This salad looks like everything summer is made of! Definitely in love with the tomato, mozzarella and basil combination, and quinoa is my favourite grain ever! The pictures are also so bright and cheery Averie!

    Reply

  30. #
    30
    marla — May 27, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Now this is a quinoa salad EXTRAORDINAIRE!!!! Pinned of course!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — May 27th, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Thanks my friend, you’re the best :)

      Reply

  31. #
    31
    Serene @ House of Yumm — May 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

    This looks positively divine!! Your pictures are stunning as always. I can’t wait to dig into this salad! Hope you have a wonderful week Averie :)

    Reply

  32. #
    32
    Samantha @ Sprinkles and Champagne — May 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    OmG. This looks so good! Going to have this sometime this week with some crab legs! Absolutely LOVE your blog by the way!

    Reply

  33. #
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    Heather — May 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    This recipe looks fabulous! I think I’ll have to try it this week!

    Reply

  34. #
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    Julie @ This Gal Cooks — May 31, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I seriously want to devour a huge bowl of this salad now! Quinoa is often my go to grain when making salads or when I don’t want to use rice or pasta but still want something carby. The combination of basil, tomato and mozzarella is one of my favs and totally screams summer.

    Great recipe, Averie! Pinned. Hope you have a fabulous weekend! :)

    Reply

  35. #
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    Valerie — May 31, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Gorgeous colours, Averie! This salad is airy and fresh; just like summer herself.

    Reply

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    Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking — May 31, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    I love your approach to summer foods! Cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes… Just add honeydew and berries, and I’ll be the happiest girl there is! I basically live off of fresh fruits and veggies all summer, and I’ll have multiple salads a day just to get as many of them as I can. Thank goodness for farmer’s markets and TJ’s! I love how you added mozzarella and basil; basil is my all-time favorite, even though my guy hates it. (He hates a lot of things I like, come to think of it! Basil, chocolate, peanut butter…) At least that means I wouldn’t have to share!

    Reply

  37. #
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    Sarah @ Running On Brie — June 4, 2014 at 7:01 am

    What a gorgeous salad! Nothing better than fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes on a warm summer day. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  38. #
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    Tessa @ Style Sweet CA — June 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Oh yumm!!! Why have I never thought to add quinoa to a caprese salad before? Perfect for summer BBQs.

    Reply

  39. #
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    Stephanie — August 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Did you use RICE wine vinegar as stated in the ingredients, or RED wine vinegar as stated in the blog post?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — August 21st, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      I’ve actually made it with both – if you have a preference, use which ever you like. I find rice wine to be a little mellower, and red wine to be a bit more bold.

      Reply

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    Sarah — September 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks Averie! I think this is going to be a great dish to make and take camping. After a long day of driving this sounds like a nice tasty dish. I would love to know the recipe for the feta, watermelon, quinoa salad! YUM 100+

    Reply

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    Tiffany@BrowardSaves — October 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    This salad looks beautiful. I am a huge fan of Quinoa and sneak it in any way possible. Never thought about combining the tomato and mozzarella textures with Quinoa. Just bookmarked it. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

    Reply

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    Lucy the Healthy Eater — October 27, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I think I know what I will eat for dinner today. :) Is this salad good with goat cheese too?

    Reply

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