Greek Quinoa/Orzo Salad

Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Quinoa Salad

I have made a Greek Orzo Salad for years, and everywhere I bring it, it gets gone fast.  Recently while doing a “Daniel Plan Detox” (no gluten allowed) I swapped out the orzo for some quinoa and we loved it!  It was also a big hit at a ladies’ function at our church, so I decided to share the recipe here.  If you don’t like quinoa, I encourage you to try it again, and make sure you rinse the heck out of it before you cook it.  Quinoa seeds (fun fact – quinoa is a grass seed, not a grain) are covered in a substance called saponin which is extremely bitter.  If you don’t get all the saponin off, quinoa tastes awful.  To me properly washed quinoa tastes like a nuttier brown rice, or kind of a cross between brown rice and sesame seeds.  Even if the bag says “pre washed” take out a little insurance against yuckiness and wash it again.  I put the seeds in a fine mesh colander and run cool water over them while I “scrub” the seeds with my fingers for a minute or two.  I rub that stuff like I am trying to wash Salmonella off it!

A few more tips:  There is no end to our love of raw garlic, so I grate the garlic clove on a microplane zester.  If you want to tame the zip, use a garlic press or mince the garlic with a knife – the more finely you process garlic (or any veggies in the allium family) the more pungent it will taste. If your lemons aren’t very tart, you can up the tang in the dressing with an optional Tbsp of red wine vinegar. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that adds an extra note of citrusy tang and some visual interest to the dressing with its pretty beet-red flecks.  I use it in all my Middle Eastern salads, but it is totally optional.  My favorite herbs to use here are fresh (not dried!) oregano and parsley, but fresh basil or mint are also good choices – whatever is growing in your garden or looks good at the market. Be sure to use English or Persian cukes so you can leave the skins on, and you don’t have to fiddle with seeding them.  If I have grape tomatoes on hand I add them to the salad (as you can see in the pix) – the more the merrier!  My favorite feta is sold at Trader Joe’s – they sell many varieties so I’ve included a snap of the one I get.  Feta can be chalky and dry, but this one is softer and creamy.   If you opt to use orzo instead of quinoa, the salad is best eaten the day it is made as pasta gets weird sitting in a vinaigrette for long.  Made with quinoa, the salad will be good for a few days of healthy snacking.   Enjoy!!!


  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. sumac (optional)


  • 1 English or 4 Persian cukes, diced
  • 1 large colored pepper, diced
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • ¼ cup pepperoncini, chopped
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa – OR –
  • 4 oz orzo, cooked
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled

In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients. Add all the veggies and toss. Fold in the quinoa or orzo. Taste and adjust seasonings, being mindful of the fact that the feta will add a lot of salt. Gently fold in the feta. Chill a few hours before serving.

My very favorite Feta - good ol' Trader Joe's!

My favorite Feta – good ol’ Trader Joe’s!

A great big bowl of beautiful gluten-free healthy deliciousness

A great big bowl of beautiful, gluten-free, healthy deliciousness!

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  • carmelsmom  On January 20, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    You could easily be a food stylist as well as cookbook author. Good tip on the quinoa, I will definitely try this recipe for my Super Bowl party.


  • Isabella  On January 21, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    Yum, this salad looks delicious– I love quinoa!! 🙂
    Keep up the great work!


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