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Scrumptious Easy Quinoa Side Dish - Recipes Perfect for Picnics or Anytime

Updated on February 27, 2016

Quinoa Salad / Side Dish

Quinoa side dish
Quinoa side dish | Source

Highly Nutritious and Easy to Make!

This scrumptious quinoa side dish is my own version of an easy recipe I first saw on one of the food network channels using some ingredients from my own garden. It would be a perfect picnic dish or could be served almost anytime one wishes to eat a delicious and highly nutritious meal.

Unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) until my husband and I happened to be watching that particular show together, I was intrigued.

It looks a bit like couscous which we both like and when I found out that it is an exceptional source of protein, I decided to try it sometime.

My hubby and I were shopping in Costco one day when I spotted a 4 pound bag of it. While it might have been nice to have sampled a little smaller make sure that we would like it...we decided to go ahead and make that purchase.

Those of you who are familiar with membership warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's know that items are generally presented in larger amounts...perfect for large families or people who enjoy the savings by purchasing items presented in bulk.

Thus, we took a leap of faith that it would be good and I am pleased to showcase my first successful recipe using quinoa as the base ingredient.

Quinoa in bag


Best quinoa recipes highly recommended by nutritionists

Quinoa 101

Quinoa's Health Benefits

The picture to the right shows the bag that we purchased at Costco. It was easy to see the little beads of the 100% whole grain through the clear window. Also being able to see that it was organic, gluten free, wheat free and a protein source encouraged my purchase of the quinoa.

Reading the back of the bag it described the quinoa as having a slightly nutty flavor.

It contains all eight essential amino acids making it a terrific source of protein for vegetarians as well as other people who simply wish to be choosing good and nutritious foods to put into their bodies.

Other benefits include being high in calcium, iron, B vitamins, magnesium and fiber.

Two recipes were on the back of the of them a Quinoa Pilaf which suggested using chopped onion, carrots, vegetable broth, chopped walnuts and parsley.

Toasted almonds and cranberries were the main ingredients along with flavorings for the other suggested quinoa recipe on the bag.

It was easy to surmise that both sweet and savory dishes could be concocted using quinoa.

Fresh ingredients for the quinoa side dish

Some ingredients for my quinoa side dish
Some ingredients for my quinoa side dish | Source

This easy recipe that I created only necessitates a few items with which to prepare this tasty side dish. If you have a cutting board, sharp knife, measuring cup, sieve and pot for cooking the quinoa with a bowl to later combine all the are ready to begin!

Recipe ingredients...

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

3 or 4 large table onions

1 yellow pepper

1 cup grape tomatoes

1/2 of a large English cucumber

1 large lemon

large handful of fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

ground pepper to taste

Measuring and rinsing the quinoa / cooked quinoa

Preparing to rinse the quinoa
Preparing to rinse the quinoa | Source
Cooked quinoa
Cooked quinoa | Source


Measure out the quinoa and either soak the grains for a while afterwards straining them or put into a sieve and hold under running water until the water runs clear.

Much of the quinoa one purchases has already been rinsed before being packaged. But this extra rinsing of the product eliminates any bitterness that might still be attached to the grain.

After rinsing, put into a pot with the water and bring to a boil after-which the quinoa is simmered until done.

This takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

Watch the pot as all of the liquid will have been absorbed when the quinoa is fully cooked.

It should still have a slightly chewy feel and the look of it will change. A white spiral-like little curly thread-like appearance will be surrounding or will be separated from the individual grains of the quinoa.

A picture of what it looks like cooked is provided to the right.

Next step: Cool the quinoa to at least room temperature. I put the cooked quinoa into the refrigerator in a bowl which would hold all of the other ingredients to help speed up this cooling process.

Chopped fresh ingredients for the quinoa side dish

Chopped cucumber
Chopped cucumber | Source
Chopped yellow pepper
Chopped yellow pepper | Source
Chopped table onions
Chopped table onions | Source
Chopped grape tomatoes
Chopped grape tomatoes | Source
Mint leaves tightly rolled together and chopped
Mint leaves tightly rolled together and chopped | Source

Preparing the rest of the ingredients...

Chop the English cucumber into small diced pieces. We prefer using those cucumbers for their burp-less feature, but of course, regular cucumbers would be just fine to use...especially if you have them growing in your garden. Zucchini would be a nice alternate ingredient.

Dice the yellow pepper into similar sized pieces. Any other colored pepper would also be fine. Yellow or orange peppers offer more color contrast to the dish when finished...but use what you have especially if grown in your garden.

The extra long green onions were from our garden so if you are purchasing them from a grocery store you might need one or two more to make up for the size of the ones I utilized. Slice both the white and green parts for use in this quinoa side dish. Naturally you could also use another type of mild onion if you wish.

These grape tomatoes were cut in half or quartered depending upon the size of each of them. Attempt to make each of the additional ingredients relative in size to the others for a pretty presentation. If you want to substitute other types of tomatoes, just cut them proportionately to approximate these.

Mint grows profusely in our garden and after removing the individual leaves, I rolled them in a tight bunch and then sliced through with a sharp knife leaving shreds of mint to be mixed throughout the quinoa side dish. If you do not have mint, parsley would be a good substitute.

It is easy to substitute vegetables or herbs of your own choosing with this recipe. Just try to provide some that will add some color and crunch to this cold quinoa side dish.

Quinoa Series / Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

Quinoa Recipes - Gail Simmons

Completing this recipe...

After adding all the chopped ingredients to the cooled and cooked quinoa, make a dressing using the extra virgin olive oil, the fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Blend well and refrigerate. This makes a large portion which will feed many people if used as a side dish. It fills a 48 oz ( 3 pound plastic lidded container ) that I have recycled from a different purchase some time ago. I'm big into recycling things!

This quinoa side dish can be served chilled or at room temperature which makes it a perfect food combination to take to a picnic as there is nothing that will quickly spoil at warmer temperatures. Serve it anytime...alone or with other dishes and be prepared for compliments. Bon Appetite!

Fruited Breakfast Quinoa

Do you think that you will give this or other quinoa recipes a try?

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For recipes from the Quinoa Corporation...Click HERE.

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5 stars from 4 ratings of Quinoa Salad or Side Dish Recipe

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 24 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Glad you like the sound of this healthful recipe which is also tasty and delicious. As to staying cool...we had planned to do a bit more yard work today and after stepping outside to let Skippy do "his business" we aborted that idea. With the humidity, the heat is just terrible. Inside projects today instead. Hope you are staying cool also!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 24 months ago from North Texas

      I've found another hub I haven't seen before! Yes, I know you have oodles of hubs. Wish I was as prolific at writing as you are. This dish looks so pretty and so yummy! And it's healthful too! I think it would be perfect for a 4th of July potluck or picnic -- or any time.

      I'd be eating it for breakfast since there's only me and I would likely make enough for several meals all at once. I always loved leftover macaroni and cheese, lasagna, Thanksgiving dinner, etc., for breakfast. Oh yes, and pizza. This would be an excellent breakfast for people like me who aren't that crazy about most of the traditional breakfast foods.

      I've pinned it to my "Salads, Soups, and Casseroles" board. Voted it up and BAUI, plus sharing with my followers.

      Hope you are staying cool!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Relationshipc,

      It is refreshing and good. Would also be good with parsley but this gives it a new flavorful twist.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I have a ton of mint leaves in the garden, and I wasn't looking for a recipe with them, just for quinoa, so I'm glad I stumbled upon this recipe. I can't image what it will taste like with the mint, but I'm excited to try it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi vespawoolf,

      Using quinoa in recipes is definitely a good thing because of the health benefits...but also the delicious nutty like flavor. I like adding it to my homemade soups in lieu of other ingredients like pasta or rice depending upon what type of soup that I happen to be making. Thanks for your comment and vote up.

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