Quinoa Salad

Just this past month, my husband and I had our families come together to finally celebrate our marriage (9 months later!). We rented a house out in the Hamptons that was fully loaded. This place had everything from a fire pit to corn hole, a game shed with skee ball, and a bocce court.

It was perfect. The scenery was beautiful. It was right on the water which made for a spectacular view. The only thing we had to worry about was food.

We wanted something simple. We had already decided we would serve hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad— the usual stuff you’d find at a BBQ. I wanted to add something a little healthier to the menu, though. The only problem was that I was really pressed for time and didn’t have enough to prep anything I wanted. I had about 30 minutes to make a really big amount of this healthy dish.

After a lot of thinking, I finally settled on a quinoa salad. This started as a recipe my friend at work had shared with me. Everyone loved it when she brought it in. I had made it a few times and found myself eating it for breakfast, lunch, and a side at dinner. This recipe has evolved in my house since then. It is very easy to play around with and I’ve found other things I like to add to it. If you have an instant pot, it’s even easier to make. So, I decided to make a huge tub of this quinoa salad for our party.

Photo credit: Alyssa DelSoldato

Photo credit: Alyssa DelSoldato


My husband’s best friend was joking around about how I brought vegan food to a BBQ. I didn’t even realize this meal was vegan until he mentioned it. He had no interest in trying it until our dinner decided to take an extra long amount of time to cook. Everyone started picking at the quinoa salad even though it was supposed to be served the next day when our friends would be joining us. This dish was loved by everyone; even the friend that originally was making fun of my quinoa salad ended up loving it.

The next day I put out what was left (it turns out some people got back into it after I went to bed) while the burgers and hot dogs were getting started on the grill. Let me just say, the salad was the first thing to go. The entire tub was gone in no time at all.

This is probably my most successful potluck meal ever. Not only does everyone love it, but it travels well, it’s something that can be made in advance and last a few days and arguably tastes even better the next day. The best thing about this quinoa salad is that you really can eat it as a meal on its own, or you can use it as a side, or even as a dip. The possibilities are endless!

I’m currently trying to get back on track after two months of travel, parties, weddings, family visiting etc. The first step for me will be making a big batch of quinoa salad to pick at all week. Check out the recipe below:

Quinoa Salad (serves 5)


1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2/3 cup water
3 cups frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped*
1/2 cup scallions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil (I used a cilantro oil, but it’s not necessary)

*For other variations, you can switch out the cilantro for things like dill, parsley, or basil. You could also try switching out the beans for different varieties.


1) Add the quinoa and water to the instant pot, then close the pressure valve and set to rice (12 minutes).**

2) While the quinoa cooks, chop the red onion, red pepper, cilantro, and scallions and mix them together in a big bowl.

3) Mince the garlic and zest the lemon.

4) In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and olive oil.

5) When the quinoa timer goes off, let the pressure go down naturally. Once the pressure is down, turn the pressure valve to open and CAREFULLY and gently open the lid AWAY FROM YOU.

6) Fluff with a fork and add to the bowl with the red onion, red pepper, cilantro, and scallions.

7) Add the frozen ingredients and the can of black beans to the bowl. Mix well. Cover in the dressing and make sure it’s fully mixed together.

8) You can serve this right away, or let it sit for an hour or so to let the quinoa absorb the dressing. Both taste great!

**Disclaimer: When using an Instant Pot, be VERY careful. Read the directions carefully and thoroughly, and use the appliance at your own risk. If you don’t have an instant pot, you can easily make the quinoa on the stove with the same measurements.

After my party, I had a lot of requests for this recipe! If you’re going to a potluck, BBQ, or just entertaining people at your place, I highly recommend making this. Not only is it vegetarian- and vegan-friendly for those that follow those types of eating plans, but everyone enjoys it and it makes a nice healthy addition to whatever it is that you’re serving!

Give this recipe a try and let us know what other variations you test out in the comments section at the bottom of the page!

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