Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Zucchini, Arugula, Tomatoes and Mint Vinaigrette

Quinoa which is pronounced – “Qin-wah” is a brilliant grain that is native to the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru prior to the domestication over 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. I guess we can agree that this grain has history and sustaining power.

One of my favorite dining destinations in Oakland is Bocanova and I often bring my clients there for lunch. A few weeks ago, I took a client there for lunch and I always look forward to seeing what the chef has prepared for the quinoa salad. Particular items on the menu change with the seasons and locally produced fruits and vegetables. This time zucchini was highlighted for the quinoa salad. It was raw and cut into thin julienne slices – just that perfect amount of light crunch.

For my visit, watercress adorned the salad with sprinkles of garden fresh baby tomatoes and dressed with mint vinaigrette. It was so refreshing, satisfying and tasty. I noted this as something to recreate and put my own spin to the recipe.

Last week, it was chilly and rainy – certainly a good reason to stay inside. Hubby and I did just that. With the fire on and the television queued up, we enjoyed this healthy and completely gratifying salad. I believe this would be a perfect salad for picnic or potluck. Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Zucchini, Arugula, Tomatoes and Mint Vinaigrette


1 C. Quinoa
2 C. Chicken Stock
½ t. Salt
2 Medium Zucchini, one inch julienne slices
2 C. Tomatoes, small orange or cherry, halved
2 C. Arugula
½ C. Pine nuts, dry roasted or toasted
¼ C. Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, add the quinoa and chicken stock plus ½ t. of salt. Quickly stir and bring the mixture to a boil. After it boils, reduce the heat to simmer and cover with a lid for about 10 minutes. Check and stir the quinoa. If liquid remains, check every 2 to 3 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

Once the quinoa is cooled, add to a large bowl to assemble the salad. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, pine nuts and cilantro. Toss gently and add the vinaigrette and toss again to combine. Right before serving, toss in the Arugula. Taste and then season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Mint Vinaigrette

1 C. Fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
3 T. Red wine vinegar
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 Garlic cloves, minced
½ t. Sugar
½ t. Salt
8 Grinds pepper
½ C. Olive Oil

Add all of the above ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your desired taste level. Set aside to strengthen the flavors for about one hour.


  1. Yes next year you need to be there for sure! It would have been even better with you there. This does sound good, I haven't eaten there will have to add it to my list. Maybe we could have a meet-up there or something. Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. I love quinoa! Thanks for this recipe, the ingredients and mint dressing sound wonderful.

  3. This looks like a wonderfully different take on one of my favorite salads, tabouleh. I am way behind the times since I have still not tried quinoa. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I always welcome a new quinoa recipe and this one is so unique! Definitely going in the file for the next time I cook some up. It looks delicious!

  5. Lisa, that is so my kind of salad! Yum! We have been eating more and more quinoa lately and are always looking for inspiration.
    And how have I missed Bocanova? Thanks for the tip.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  6. How have I made it this long surrounded by delicious food from food bloggers and am still yet to taste Quinoa? GREG

  7. This does look like a great salad for a picnic! I love this kind of salad that works perfectly cold from the refrigerator or at room temperature.

  8. I'm a little light on creative quinoa recipes and your colorful salad full of veggies is exactly what I like. Beautiful mint vinaigrette, too! Sounds like you're staying warm and cozy up there :)

  9. I absolutely love quinoa and think it is brilliant to add a mint vinaigrette! I cannot wait to try this!


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