Mediterranean Quinoa Salad — This EASY quinoa salad is ready in 20 minutes with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients including chickpeas, Kalamata olives, artichokes, and goat cheese to give layers of flavor and texture in every bite! Naturally gluten-free and vegetarian!
Mediterranean-Inspired Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
I love a good quinoa salad and always feel so healthy when I’m eating one.
This quinoa salad is easy, ready in 20 minutes, and is chock full of Mediterranean-inspired ingredients including chickpeas, artichoke hearts, black Kalamata olives, and goat cheese.
I also added fresh spinach to amp up the green level, red onion for a flavor boost, as well as lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to give the quinoa salad some tangy zest!
Ingredients in Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This flexible quinoa salad recipe is made with everyday ingredients that you may likely have in your pantry and fridge.
To make this naturally gluten-free salad, you need to use:
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Fresh spinach
- Artichoke hearts
- Kalamata olives
- Kosher salt
- Goat cheese (feta may be substituted)
How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This quinoa and chickpea salad comes together in about 20 minutes and is hearty enough to enjoy as a main or as a side dish!
- Cook the onion in an oiled skillet until it softens.
- Add the dry quinoa to the skillet and toast for about 30 seconds before adding in the water, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.
- Cover and allow the quinoa to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Turn off the heat, add the spinach, and stir until it wilts before adding in drained chickpeas, artichokes, and black olives.
- Season with cardamom, salt, and pepper as desired.
- Add the goat cheese, stir to combine, and get ready to dig in!
How to Serve Chickpea Quinoa Salad
For me, the salad is great at any temperature. Serve it freshly made and warm, serve it at room temperature, or serve it chilled straight from the refrigerator. Your choice!
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
Yes! This is a great meal prep recipe and keeps very well in the fridge for up to 5 days or you can freeze it for up to 4 months. However, take note that the color and texture of the spinach will change upon thawing, but the taste is just fine.
I actually find that this simple flavors marry together and this quinoa salad almost tastes better the second day!
Recipe Variations to Try
As I mentioned above, this is a very flexible recipe. Try or more of the following variations on this easy quinoa salad recipe:
- Add in some sliced almonds like I did in this Lemon and Sun-dried Tomato Quinoa Salad.
- Don’t have a red onion but have white or yellow? Go for it.
- Leftover homemade chicken or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken would amp up the protein content.
- If you’re not a fan of olives, and I know they are a hotly contested food, just omit them.
- I love garbanzo beans and always have a can or more on hand, but another cooked white bean will work.
Is The Cheese Necessary?
No, the goat cheese is not absolutely necessary and if you’re trying to keep this vegetarian salad vegan, then go ahead and omit the cheese.
Likewise, you can also substitute another type of cheese for the goat cheese such as crumbled feta cheese or even freshly grated Parmesan would be nice here. For me, cheese of most any flavor or type is always a great idea!
Can I Add Another Protein Source?
Of course! You’re welcome to add cooked shredded chicken or even shrimp to this recipe. Season with your favorite Mediterranean-inspired spice blend and simply mix into the salad.
Tips for the Best Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
All quinoa cooks slightly differently and if during the cooking process your quinoa looks like it needs a bit more water in order to fully soften, feel free to add another one-quarter cup or so.
If you want to keep the hunks of goat cheese more intact as shown in the photos, and not have it melt into the quinoa, wait until the quinoa cools a bit before adding the cheese.
For the artichokes, I used one 15-ounce can of artichokes packed in water that I rinsed, drained, and quartered. If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, I recommend their frozen artichoke hearts in a pale yellow bag; thaw and drain them and use about 1 cup.
I don’t recommend artichokes packed in oil for this recipe because I think it will make the overall quinoa salad taste greasy
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- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced small (white or yellow onion may be substituted)
- 1 cup dry uncooked quinoa (I used white; another color may be substituted)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed (2 heaping handfuls)
- one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use no-salt added)
- one 15-ounce can artichoke hearts*, drained and halved or quartered or 1 cup frozen that have been thawed and drained (See Notes)
- 2/3 cup pitted and drained black Kalamata olives, or as desired
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if desired
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (feta may be substituted)
- To a large skillet or saucepan, add the olive oil, onion, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened and just begun to barely brown, about 7 minutes.
- Add the quinoa and stir it into the onions and let it toast for about 30 seconds.
- Add the water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed** (See Notes). While it’s simmering, prep and drain the remaining ingredients.
- When the quinoa is done, turn off the heat, add the spinach, and stir into the quinoa until it wilts, about 1 minute.
- Add the chickpeas, artichokes, olives, cardamom, salt, pepper, stir well to combine, and taste. If desired, add additional salt, pepper, cardamom, or for a tiny bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Add the goat cheese (wait until the quinoa has cooled if you don't want it to melt into the quinoa and disintegrate), stir to combine, and serve. Quinoa salad may be served warm and fresh, at room temp, or chilled straight from the fridge.
*For the artichokes I used one 15-ounce can artichokes, packed in water, that I rinsed, drained, and quartered. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, I recommend their frozen artichoke hearts in a pale yellow bag; thaw and drain them and use about 1 cup. I don't recommend artichokes packed in oil for this recipe because I think it will make the overall quinoa salad taste greasy
**All quinoa cooks slightly differently and if during the cooking process your quinoa looks like it needs a bit more water in order to fully soften, feel free to add another one-quarter cup or so.
Storage: Quinoa salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months, noting that the color and texture of the spinach will change upon thawing, but the taste is just fine. I actually find that this simple flavors marry together and this quinoa salad almost tastes better the second day.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 1238mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 13gSugar: 6gProtein: 21g
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Tabbouleh — Never had it? Think couscous or quinoa mixed with vegetables, herbs, lemon and olive oil! Easy, no cooking required, healthy, and packed with so much flavor! (Great for outdoor events because there’s no mayo!)