Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Quinoa was one of those ingredients on our list of things we didn’t cook with and couldn’t pronounce. Turns out, this grain-like edible seed packs quite the nutritional punch. Full of protein, fibre, iron and calcium, quinoa is great for gluten-free diets, vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant.

Ayaka managed to avoid quinoa her entire life. That is until her brother had to adopt a gluten-free diet. She was pushed out of her culinary comfort zone and had to work with this unfamiliar ingredient. The resulting experiment turned out to be a delicious one.

Inspired by Moroccan cuisine, this salad is a wonderful collage of veggies, fresh herbs and spices. Aromatic cumin, fresh coriander and garlic infuse the light and fluffy quinoa with bold flavours. Crunchy cucumbers, bell peppers and zucchini add texture and colour. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made well in advance and the flavours only get better over time. Don’t tell the vegetarians about this one, because this recipe tastes amazing.

Quinoa up close
Quinoa up close & personal.

Ayaka’s Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad

Serves 4


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsps good quality olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medum zucchini, diced
  • 1 generous pinch each of salt & pepper
  • 1/4 a large English cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne (optional)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Lots of veggies on a wooden cutting board


  1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker (an old Asian trick). Option 2 also allows extra time for a glass of wine. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile in a deep frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and cook onions and zucchini over low heat until translucent (about 5 mins).
  3. Crank up the heat to medium and add diced garlic, tomatoes, cumin, salt & pepper. Cook for 4-5 mins and remove pan from heat and let cool
  4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, the cooked mixture, red pepper, cucumber, and chopped cilantro and parsley. Mix well until all the ingredients are distributed evenly. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Got any great quinoa recipes to share with us? Post your favourites below!

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