Peruvian Quinoa Salad


Quinoa is a staple “grain-like crop” grown that has a very long history of being very widely consumed in Peru. It’s high in protein and is otherwise nutritionally very dense; it also happens to be very, very delicious.

We have always loved and often eaten quinoa; it has a simple flavor and a lovely slight crunch when cooked just to the point of being barely tender. You see it most commonly in this yellow-white color, but also in beautiful red and black colors. When we went to Peru last year we were fortunate enough to see the beautiful flowering fields everywhere, and enjoyed eating quinoa in many different ways.

This tabbouleh-like salad, very slightly adapted from a great Peruvian cooking source,, is one delicious and wonderful way to enjoy this high-protein and easy to prepare food. It has been very much enjoyed at the 2 Vagabonds parties as a refreshing, light salad and an example of some of the wonderful flavors of Peru.


  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (more to taste)
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, chopped (curly or flat-leaf)
  • ½ cup green onion, white and green part, chopped
  • 2-4 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, minced
  • ½ cup green olives, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cup or so sliced hearts of palm
  • Lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium-large pot over high heat.

In a fine-mesh sieve or in a bowl, carefully rinse quinoa very, very well to rid it of the naturally- occurring bitter substance saponin (unless the package instructions specifically state that this step is unnecessary).

Drain well and add to boiling water. Cook at a low simmer for 10-15 minutes until just barely tender and the little curly tails are just barely beginning to show from the quinoa (I know this sounds crazy—but you’ll see what I mean). Drain well and cool. You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker just as you would white rice with excellent no-watch, no-drain results.

Combine cooled quinoa, tomatoes, parsley, green onion, mint, garlic, basil, olives, red pepper and hearts of palm in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Cover and chill for about an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend. Taste to check seasoning, and serve piled high in a bowl or platter.



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