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This Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Salad is a favorite around here– it looks elegant, and comes together in 10 minutes (once you have your quinoa cooked). It actually started out as just a zucchini ribbon salad, but I kept finding myself serving it alongside quinoa for dinner, so now I just toss them together.
This is one of the most popular side dishes for our weeknight salmon dinners– because it’s so easy, so healthy, and so delicious. I wrap a big piece of salmon in foil, top with sea salt, pepper, and lots of dill, and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. While that’s baking, I put on a pot of quinoa, throw this salad together, then sit down and relax with Alex while everything finishes cooking. It seriously is about 12 minutes of effort, and the end result is AMAZING.
And don’t worry about that zucchini core– it’s not going to waste. I either save it for a green juice (my Green Apple Cider calls for it, but it would go just as great in my Recovery Juice instead of cucumber), or chop it, freeze it, and use it in smoothies. My Chiang Mai Frozen Banana Coffee actually calls for frozen zucchini, but you could also sub it for the spinach in my Orange Dreamsicle or Metabolism Booster Smoothie. It’s a great “starter vegetable” for green juices and smoothies because it adds almost no green color (especially if you’re using the left over core from this recipe), and adds almost zero flavor. Although I am not a proponent of hiding vegetables from kids, this is a great way to introduce them to the world of drinking your veggies.
I had a big bowl of this salad for lunch today. I put on headphones, closed my eyes, and pretended I was on the Mediterranean (<– j/k, but I should have done this!) eating this instead of sitting in my dusty, torn apart condo, full of workers and boxes and piles of samples to go through. We are doing a last minute (a bit too last minute, if you ask me) renovation to get ready for baby. Except Alex doesn’t do anything small. Once we started talking about putting in a new bathtub for the baby, and adding some new built in storage spaces, he just kept adding to the list. . .
I am not complaining! It’s going to be wonderful to have extra space, some new paint, a completely redone master bathroom . . . it just doesn’t make for the most relaxing summer break. I can’t wait to get into the nursery and set it up, but that is still 2 weeks off before I can begin.
So until then, I am going to sit on my balcony, sipping a virgin mojito, BBQing salmon, and eating this salad, and maybe I’ll just look at a picture of the Mediterranean.
Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Salad
- 3/4 cup quinoa cooked to package directions, and cooled
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup black olives sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil thinly sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts to garnish
- 1/4 cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice zucchini into long ribbons. Peel the firm outer flesh of the zucchini into ribbons, but save the inner softer part for green juice or smoothies.
- In a bowl, later zucchini ribbons and cooled quinoa.
- Add the tomatoes, olives, red bell pepper, basil and minced garlic.
- In a small container, mix together dressing ingredients. I find this salad needs very little (if any) sea salt, so start sparingly until after you've tried it.
- Gently toss salad, and top with pine nuts.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Other Refreshing Lettuce-Free Salads:
- The Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad, by The Garden Grazer
- Potato Salad with Green Beans and Asparagus, by Green Valley Kitchen (this is served warm, but I think it would make a great cold potato salad in the summer!)
- Easy Asian Quinoa Slaw, by Gimme Some Oven
- Radish and Fennel Orzo Salad, by Healthy Recipe Ecstasy
- Mayo-Free Broccoli Salad, by Vitamin Sunshine
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Such a beautiful recipe!!! Yes to freezing that zucchini! It’s sinful to ever waste my favorite veggie!
And I am all about the Mediterranean flavors! So good and so healthy!
Thanks Rebecca 🙂 Zucchini is one of my favs for sure– when I was a kid, my parents grew it in our vegetable garden, and when we had a ton in the summer, my mom would cook zucchini 3 different ways for dinner– and being the strange child I was, it was always my favorite dinner and I would beg for it!
Fareeha - faskitchen says
wow, what a beautiful story in pictures. I knew the story even before reading ur post.. Every single picture tells a tale.. so glad I came across ur blog
Thanks for stopping by, Fareeha 🙂
Michelle @ Healthy Recipe Ecstasy says
This looks so incredibly fresh Michelle and your pictures are FANTASTIC! Thanks for including my orzo salad. 🙂
I’ve been wanting to make your Orzo salad since you posted it 🙂
Tina Marie says
Yum! This looks beautiful, fresh, and so inviting!
Rachel @ Simple Seasonal says
This looks so delicious and fresh. I really like your food photos. I was just looking through you site and the way your arrange so many of your photos seems to tell a story along with making the food look great!
Thanks Rachel 🙂 I’ve been working on it– and my photos certainly are getting better and better.
Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma) says
wowzers, that salad looks amazing! So fresh and so tasty! YUMMING for later!
Thanks for Yumming! It is a really fresh, summery salad.
Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness says
I love the colors of this salad. Sounds super healthy and delicious.
Mel @ avirtualvegan.com says
What a beautiful looking salad and so nutritious. Summer in a bowl!
Exactly– the perfect cooling, refreshing salad for summer.
olivia giovanni says
Those colors looks amazing! great job on the photos!
Thank you! The photos did turn out nice.
Such a beautiful looking salad! love it!
I appreciate it, Priya 🙂
This salad looks great, going to give it a try soon. Nice photography too.
Thank you, Deepika. I hope you enjoy!
Patti @ CooksRecipeCollection.com says
This salad looks wonderful and so healthy too.
Yes, great source of protein, light and refreshing!
Byron Thomas says
Gorgeous! What a perfect idea for all of that summer fresh zucchini!
Thanks Byron– it is a pretty salad.
Meg @ Noming thru Life says
Wow! This looks fabulous!!! I LOVE Mediterranean salad, and this one is definitely calling my name. Gorgeously photographed as well might I add! 🙂
Thanks Meg! Great flavors. If you try it, let me know!
Ethel @eatingininstead says
Gorgeous colors! I wish I could get quinoa in Morocco! What do you think about substituting barley for the quinoa?
Really, any grain would work. I have used millet in a lot of salads. I have never used barley, but can’t think why it wouldn’t work.
I live in Malaysia, and there are many times I can’t get quinoa– or times when the price is sky high and I just don’t. Millet has a similar nutritional profile and is great is cold salads.
this salad looks great but do you think that either cucumber or broccoli would work well?
Cucumber is a good idea! I might try that. I’ve found with broccoli salads, you typically need more dressing, and need to dress the broccoli ahead of time and allow it to soften a bit before serving. It would be really delicious with all the other flavors though!
It has been a while Michelle, how’s it going?
This salad is so refreshing and I love every single ingredient in it! I finally brought back a bag of quinoa from the US but I haven’t started to cook with it. Somehow, I feel a bit intimidated because I’m so new to this ingredient! I will make this soon so I can finally start to cook with quinoa!
Take care 🙂
Quinoa is easy, Maggie! It cooks just like rice (double the amount of water to quinoa), but a bit faster– so it’s super convenient to make for quick meals. It adds such great texture to salads like this, but I use it in place of rice often for stir fries or curries also!
I’m doing well! I keep checking your blog to hear all about Austin– such a cool city! What an exciting time for you.
Sinea Pies says
I love the lettuce-free idea for salads. Though many of my salads will continue to have lettuce of some kind, it is a wonderful change of pace to scrap the lettuce for other vegetables, instead.
This salad looks awesome! Pinned for later 🙂
I agree– I love lettuce, but change is always nice. And veggies like zucchini and cabbage keep their crunch and stay fresh longer than lettuce– I usually keep salads like this around for several days, then layer them on lettuce anyway!
Healing Tomato says
This is the best looking quinoa salad I have seen. The Mediterranean twist is awesome.