Ryan and I are not picky eaters and generally like similar foods with a few exceptions. For a long time, I thought quinoa was one such exception. Ryan would always eat quinoa if I made it but never raved about the protein and fiber-rich grain and simply said it “wasn’t his favorite.” We went on a bit of a quinoa hiatus after that and I began making it a couple of times a month rather than every week like I had been doing for quite a while.
Well, two weekends ago, when we had some friends over for a casual cookout, our friend Laura brought a cold quinoa salad to share. I didn’t even realize Ryan loaded up his plate with her salad until I heard him ask her what was in it. When I saw his plate filled with quinoa, I was shocked and immediately added some of the salad to my plate, too. After one bite, I instantly understood why Ryan loved it so much. It was packed with some of his favorite foods and flavors: Pineapple and cilantro.
Quick side note: I know cilantro is a polarizing herb and if you are on Team I Hate Cilantro, you can easily substitute mint for cilantro in this recipe!
The next day, Laura texted me loose instructions for how she made her quinoa salad and I gave it a shot in our kitchen. We loved it just as much as we did the first time, so I decided to measure everything out when I made another batch yesterday afternoon so I could share the cold quinoa salad recipe on the blog with you guys just in time for spring!
The recipe makes a great side dish but can easily be transformed into a more satiating main course by adding grilled chicken, steak or shrimp or even black beans on top!
Cold Quinoa Salad
Makes approximately seven 1/2-cup servings
- 3 cups chilled cooked quinoa
- 1 English (seedless) cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits + 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- juice and zest of one lime
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Place diced onion in a small bowl of ice water for approximately 10 minutes. (This will remove the bite from the raw onion. Do not skip this step!)
- Remove leaves from cilantro bunch, discard the stems and chop remaining leaves.
- Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drain the water from the onion and add the onion to the mix. Add chopped cilantro. Toss everything to combine.
- Serve chilled and refrigerate remaining leftovers in an airtight container.
Per 1/2 cup serving: Calories: 133 / Fat: 3g / Sodium: 221mg / Carbs: 23g / Sugars: 5g / Fiber: 3g / Protein: 4g
- Approximately one cup of uncooked quinoa yields three cups of cooked quinoa. This recipe calls for chilled cooked quinoa but before cooking your quinoa, try toasting the quinoa lightly in a dry skillet to give it a more roasted flavor before boiling it.
- Regular cucumbers may be used in this recipe but I prefer English/seedless cucumbers to avoid any cucumber seeds in this dish.
- For an incredibly fast shortcut, simply combining the cold quinoa with Whole Foods’ pre-made pineapple salsa (the kind without tomatoes) and adding peeled, chopped cucumbers and a sprinkle of feta cheese works well in a pinch!
- Our local grocery store sells cans of pineapple tidbits but if you have trouble finding them, finely diced pineapple (fresh or canned) will also work.
- For an added dose of healthy fats, try dicing up an avocado and tossing it in the salad immediately before serving.