A pasta salad with quinoa is for days when you crave a good Italian pasta salad, yet want to eat a low-calorie healthy dinner! This quinoa pasta salad with a delicious and light basil balsamic vinaigrette is all you need on those hot summer days.
3clovesgarlic, minced(or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
2tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil
¼teaspoon eachdried basil, oregano, thyme
Rinse and drain quinoa using a fine-mesh strainer. Add 2¼ cups of stock to 1 cup of quinoa in a large microwave-safe bowl. (Use 2 cups for white quinoa.) Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
Close with a lid. Cook in the microwave on high power for 10 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the microwave. There would still be some water left at the bottom. Stir well with a spatula.
Cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and fluff up the quinoa with a spatula or fork. Let it cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
Chop the vegetables. Slice the olives and almonds. Crumble the feta.
Remove seeds from the cucumber and slice them into thin half discs. Slice the pepper and onions thin.
Slice the olives and almonds. Crumble the feta.
Add all the mix-ins with torn basil leaves to the cooled quinoa.
Basil balsamic vinaigrette
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small jar.
Quinoa pasta salad
Drizzle half of the dressing on the salad. Toss well.
Add the remaining dressing. Toss again. Serve immediately or chill to serve later.
Well-cooked quinoa is important for this recipe since it may not absorb much of the dressing if it is either crunchy (undercooked) or mushy (overcooked). Make sure you stick to the time specified.
I've used tricolor quinoa here. The measurements and cooking time is the same if you're using red or black quinoa. If you're using white quinoa, use 2 cups of stock and cook for 2 minutes less (10+8 minutes).
Quinoa absorbs the dressing better when it is warm. Add a couple of spoons of the dressing when the quinoa is warm, and add the rest after adding all the mix-ins.
I've used Japanese cucumbers here. They are crunchier than most other types.
Slice the vegetables into either match sticks or half discs. Chunky pieces of veggies don’t work well for this Italian quinoa salad.
To remove the harsh bite of raw onions: Slice the onions and submerge in a bowl of water with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Toast the sliced almonds (or whatever nuts or seeds you're using) for a couple of minutes to make them crunchier and tastier.