Taking a page from the flavors of Greece, this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad recipe is packed with crunchy bell peppers, crisp cucumbers, and the briny flavors of feta and kalamata olives.

An overhead photo of quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils.
Photo Credits: Katherine Irwin

I’ve been making this quinoa salad recipe since my kids were toddlers and now that they are teens they still enjoy it.

I love it because it's packed with crunchy colorful bell peppers, cool cucumbers, and nutrient-dense quinoa. Olives and feta give it that Mediterranean vibe and some healthy fats along with the lemony olive oil oregano dressing. It lasts for a full week in the fridge, is great in lunches, and is easy to adapt.

When tomatoes are in season, toss in a handful. Don’t like feta? Leave it out. Increase the amount of quinoa to add extra heft or add chickpeas or shredded grilled chicken breasts for a protein boost. If you go to make this salad and realize you are out of quinoa, swap in pearled barley,  bulgur, or green lentils.

It doesn't get much easier than this Mediterranean quinoa salad. Serve it when friends come over, take it to a party or office potluck, or pack it in lunches.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for this Quinoa Salad Recipe 
  2. How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
  3. Swaps and Substitutions 
  4. Tips for Cooking with Quinoa
  5. What to Serve with Quinoa Salad 
  6. More Grain Salad Recipes 
  7. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Peppers, Cucumbers, Olives and Feta Recipe
ingredients for quinoa salad including quinoa, lemon, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil, scallions, bell peppers, kalamata olives, English cucumber, and crumbled feta cheese.

Ingredients for this Quinoa Salad Recipe 

  • Quinoa: This seed is not only popular for its nutty taste and fluffy texture but also for its high nutritional value. It is rich in protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. 
  • Lemon, zested and juiced: Lemon brings a burst of tangy flavor to this Mediterranean Quinoa salad recipe. The zest, or outer layer of the peel, adds a fragrant aroma while the juice provides acidity and brightness. 
  • Oregano: Commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine oregano and lemon go together like peas and carrots. I use it dried in this recipe, but if you have fresh you can use that instead. Or use both!
  •  Kosher salt: Kosher salt, unlike table salt, is coarser and has a milder taste. It is commonly used in cooking and adds depth to flavors without overpowering them. 
  • Black pepper: Black pepper is another seasoning staple. It provides a spicy and slightly earthy flavor.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil adds fruitiness and carries the salt, pepper, lemon, and oregano to all the other ingredients in this quinoa salad recipe. It is high in monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy, as well as antioxidants and vitamin E. We provide many varieties of high-quality olive oil options in our shop
  • Scallions, white and green parts: Scallions, also known as green onions, have a mild and slightly onion-like flavor. 
  • Bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange): I opt for sweet bell peppers in this recipe – red, yellow, or orange. They are high in vitamin C, and add texture to this salad along with a pop of color. 
  • Kalamata olives, drained: These dark-colored olives are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and provide a rich, briny flavor to this recipe. 
  • English cucumber: Cucumbers are refreshing and add a crisp texture. I like English cucumbers, but any cucumber will do. If using American slicing cucumbers, just peel some of the skin away and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. 
  • Feta cheese: Adds creaminess and a little saltiness to this salad which works well with all the other flavors. 
An overhead photo of quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils. This is surrounded by small bowls of feta cheese, salt and pepper as well as 2 lemon halves, a jar of fresh oregano, and a cloth napkin.

How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

  • Rinse 1 cup quinoa well under cold running water. Cook according to package instructions. 
  • While the quinoa cooks, add the juice and zest of 1 lemon to a serving bowl, along with the 1 teaspoon oregano, ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt, and about ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper. Whisk in ¼ cup of olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. the dressing for the quinoa salad in a large bowl with a whisk.
  • Once the quinoa is finished cooking and has absorbed all of the liquid add it to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Stir to coat and allow the quinoa to absorb the lemon vinaigrette. Let it cool completely before adding the vegetables. Cooked quinoa in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  • While the quinoa cools, chop the vegetables. Slice the scallions, chop the peppers, and run your knife through the Kalamata olives. Add them to the bowl. Slice the cucumber in half then into quarters and roughly chop. Add the bowl and stir. Finish with crumbled feta and serve. Quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils. This is surrounded by small bowls of feta cheese, salt and pepper as well as a lemon half, a jar of fresh oregano, and a cloth napkin.

Swaps and Substitutions 

This recipe couldn’t be easier to adapt to your personal tastes or to use up what you have on hand. Here are a few ideas to mix it up. 

  • Add garlic to the vinaigrette 
  • Swap oregano for basil 
  • Use chevre instead of feta 
  • Add a can of drained, rinsed chickpeas for an extra boost of plant-based protein
  • Toss in handfuls of fresh, chopped parsley, basil or dill 
  • Up the vegetables by adding in sliced grape tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts or radishes.
  • Skip the cheese to make it vegan
  • Swap quinoa for bulgur, barley, or lentils
  • Add chicken
Quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils. This is surrounded by small bowls of feta cheese and pepper and a cloth napkin.

Tips for Cooking with Quinoa

The star ingredient in this salad is quinoa, a nutrient-dense seed that is high in protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. It's also naturally gluten-free, making it a great option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, sometimes quinoa can taste bitter, but there is an easy fix.

Quinoa has a coating that contains saponins, bitter-tasting bioactive compounds. They are naturally occurring and nothing to worry about, but they are why some people pass on this versatile seed. However, removing the saponins (and the bitterness along with it) is easy to do. Here’s how:

  1. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. 
  2. Rinse the quinoa under running water while agitating the seeds. 
An overhead photo of quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils. This is surrounded by small bowls of feta cheese, salt and pepper as well as 2 lemon halves, a jar of fresh oregano, and a cloth napkin.

What to Serve with Quinoa Salad 

This, to me, is the quintessential meal prep salad. All the vegetables last for a while in the fridge. It tastes good at room temperature, making it a wonderful option for taking to a party or packing lunches. 

This is also my, company-is-coming-over salad recipe. Quinoa cooks quickly and I almost always have these ingredients in my house. When I’m expecting friends and family, I make this Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe along with a fruit salad.

If it’s in the dead of winter I will probably make this Citrus Salad with Honey and Vanilla or when the weather is nice a berry salad like this Summer Fruit Salad recipe. If tomatoes are at peak season, Caprese Salad is always on the table.

When it comes to main meal pairings, I’m a huge fan of Broiled Salmon with Lodolemono Dressing or for something more casual Salmon Burgers. When I’m not in the mood for fish, then Lemon Garlic Chicken is usually on my mind. 

More Grain Salad Recipes 

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5 from 9 votes

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Peppers, Cucumbers, Olives and Feta

Summer Miller
An overhead photo of quinoa salad in a large bowl with wooden serving utensils next to a cloth napkin.
Quinoa serves as the foundation for this lemony vegetable-heavy salad. It's a great make-ahead option as the leftovers last for a week in the fridge. Quinoa salad is a great for serving at parties because it's best at room temperature.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Total – 25 minutes
Cuisine:
American/Mediterranean, Greek/Mediterranean
Serves – 8
Course:
Lunch, Salad, Sides/Salad

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 scallions (white and green parts)
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 English cucumber
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions
 

  • Cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well under cold running water. Cook according to package instructions.
  • Make the dressing. While the quinoa cooks, add the juice and zest of the lemon to a serving bowl, along with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Dress the quinoa. Once the quinoa is tender and has finished cooking, add it to the bowl with the dressing. Stir to coat and allow the quinoa to absorb the lemon dressing. Let it cool completely before adding the vegetables.
  • While the quinoa cools, chop the vegetables, adding them to the quinoa as you go. Trim and slice the scallions, chop the peppers, and run your knife across the olives to break them into smaller pieces. Slice the cucumber in half, then into quarters, and slice. Add the bowl and stir. Finish with feta and serve. You can dress it up by garnishing it with fresh oregano leaves, but that's entirely optional.

Video

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 185.5kcalCarbohydrates: 18.2gProtein: 5.7gFat: 10.6gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 6.2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 437.4mgPotassium: 257.8mgFiber: 2.7gSugar: 2.4gVitamin A: 1066.8IUVitamin C: 40.3mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 1.4mg
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Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight. Toasted the quinoa first as suggested on the package; otherwise followed the directions exactly and it's delicious! Fresh lemon dressing is beautiful. Served some fresh tomatoes, tinned jumbo calamari and crusty bread on the side and called it dinner. Thank you for this.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! My 15 year old asked for seconds and advised his sister to try it because it was “so good!”. I’ll be making this regularly.

  3. Just made this today and I was hooked on the first bite! Love the flavor and texture. And it’s so easy to assemble! This recipe is a keeper…thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for lunch today, we loved it!! Full of nutrition, the textures and flavors are perfect. So good, thank you again for these recipes.

  5. Another winner! This salad was so easy and simple but has great texture and flavor. The addition of feta makes it amazing. Thank you Suzy.

  6. Delicious!! I was looking for recipes to incorporate quinoa, this is very tasty. Nice as a side, or light lunch. I can definitely see throwing in some grilled chicken - yum!!

  7. I don't have scallions - can I use onion and if so, how much? I'm guessing about 3/4 Cup for 4 scallions. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Robert -- I would use only about 1/4 minced onion. And if you use onion, I would squeeze the lemon juice over them and let them sit for about 5 minutes to take the edge off of them before adding to this salad.