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This Mediterranean quinoa salad stars a hearty quinoa tomato sofrito blend served over greens and topped with feta. It’s sublime!

Mediterranean quinoa salad
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We got this email from a reader a few months back: Hi Sonja and Alex. I just had the most delicious Greek salad at Panera. I would love to make this at home but don’t know where to start. Perhaps you do? -Kathy.” When we read Kathy’s request, we said: why don’t we just try to make a recipe? It resulted in this Mediterranean quinoa salad! It’s a seriously tasty quinoa bowl: a hearty main dish salad that works as a meal. Here’s how to make it!

Tips for this Mediterranean quinoa salad

This Mediterranean quinoa salad is a bit different than most: it’s more like a quinoa bowl that works as a healthy dinner recipe! Here are a few notes on the flavors:

  • The main feature? A quinoa tomato sofrito blend. Sofrito is a sauce used as a base in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Latin American cooking. Typically in Spanish cuisine, it’s garlic, onion, paprika, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil (it’s also typical as a basis for starting a paella). Here a simplified sofrito adds an almost meaty flavor and texture to the quinoa. Some people complain about a bitter taste from quinoa, but the sofrito makes it taste tangy and almost sweet!
  • Accessorize with Mediterranean veggies. To make it a main dish Mediterranean quinoa salad, serve it over greens with cucumber, Kalamata olives, feta, and a tasty vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon, and oregano.
  • Serve as a healthy lunch or dinner. This salad turned out even more satisfying than we imagined! Eat it as a healthy lunch or dinner recipe, accessorized with bread, toast or crackers.
Olive oil

Olive oil nutrition

There’s a healthy dose of olive oil in this Mediterranean quinoa salad, as with most of Mediterranean diet cuisine. And speaking of health and olive oil, there’s been found to be a correlation between the two!

  • Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil can help you fight stress, improve mood swings, decrease mental fatigue and even manage your weight. Not all fats are bad! Harvard School of Public Health recommends some healthy fat intake; as a rule of thumb, out with the bad, in with the good.
  • Olive olive may reduce the risk of heart disease. The FDA says eating 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day may reduce the risk of heart disease, due to its monounsaturated fat content.

With both health benefits and big flavor, this bowl was a win in our house. Thanks to Kathy for the challenge to create this Panera quinoa salad recipe!

Mediterranean quinoa salad

More quinoa recipes

Outside of this quinoa salad, we have many quinoa recipes on A Couple Cooks! Here are a few of our favorite quinoa recipes:

This Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, omit the feta crumbles.

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reek Sofrito Quinoa Bowl | A Couple Cooks

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad


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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 main dish salads 1x

Description

This Mediterranean quinoa salad stars a hearty quinoa tomato sofrito blend served over greens and topped with feta. It’s sublime!


Ingredients

Scale

For the quinoa tomato sofrito

  • 1 ½ cups dry quinoa
  • 1 small white onion (or 1/2 large)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Black pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

For the Mediterranean quinoa salad

  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • 1 large bunch Lacinato kale or 5 ounces baby kale
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): Using a strainer, rinse the quinoa under cold water, then drain it completely. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains. Turn off the heat and let sit with the lid on to steam for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  2. Make the sofrito: Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for 1 minute more. Pour the crushed tomatoes. paprika, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and mix well. Simmer for about 15 minutes, with the lid at an angle, until slightly thickened. When the sauce is done, stir in the cooked quinoa, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, and kosher salt. Gradually whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil until the dressing is emulsified and creamy.
  4. In a small, dry skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant.
  5. Chop the romaine and kale. Dice the cucumber. Slice the olives in half.
  6. To serve, place the greens in a bowl. Top with a layer of the quinoa, then cucumbers, olives, feta and almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Greek
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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6 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Is it really 1.5 cups of quinoa? Makes quite a bit then! I have seen this at Panera and it looks delicious. I’m always looking for new ways to cook and flavor quinoa. Thanks.

    1. Sonja says:

      It is 1.5 cups quinoa! We’ve found that when eating a vegetarian main, we like to load up the protein to make it filling enough. It does make quite a bit of quinoa — which you can use in the bowl or for leftovers.

  2. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    What a great idea to liven up quinoa with the sofrito. I’ve been dreaming of all things Greek salad-inspired recently, in anticipation of the warm sunny days that will come soon to Madrid. And this bowl is a great spring to summer transition meal.

    1. Sonja says:

      Yes! Good point — it doesn’t have too many seasonal items except for cucumber, which I don’t mind buying before summer hits. I hope sun comes to Madrid soon!

    2. Marge Becker says:

      This is so yummy! We’re not vegetarians but trying to eat more healthfully. I bought quinoa for the first time and chose this recipe to use it in. There were a few ingredients I didn’t have, so substituted (pistachios for almonds, spinach for the romaine & kale, lime juice for lemon, cucumber for English cucumber) and it was (still) delicious! Easy to make too.






  3. Analida's Ethnic Spoon says:

    Mediterranean flavors and sofrito sound like a lovely combination for a summer day. Cannot wait to try this one.