Crisp and cool with a refreshing lemony tartness, this crunchy Cucumber Quinoa Summer Salad is one of my favorite summertime recipes perfect for any cookout. Quinoa is a great addition to the salad, this uber-healthy grain is rich in protein, fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals.
What Ingredients are in Cucumber Quinoa Salad?
- Cucumbers: The best cucumbers for cucumber salad are the English cucumbers, although all cucumbers are great and will work. English cucumbers have thin edible skin and don’t require peeling and the seeds aren’t as bitter as other varieties.
- Quinoa: Any color quinoa will work great. I prefer to use quinoa that was cooked the previous day and refrigerated overnight. I actually like to cook the quinoa with the corn, the sweetness of the corn helps to flavor the quinoa.
- Corn: Fresh corn cut from the cob is preferred, but a good quality frozen or canned corn will work well. But if it’s summer and corn is in season, please use fresh corn for the best cucumber salad.
- Red Onions: These give a nice contrasting bite to the sweetness of the other ingredients as well as adding beautiful color to the cucumber salad.
- Bell Pepper: Any color will work; however, I prefer the red for its color. One of my favorite things about this Cucumber Quinoa Salad is its amazing array of colors, it is really beautiful on the table.
- Flat-Leaf Parsley: Parsley adds a freshness to any salad, it is very complimentary to all of the ingredients as well as being healthy.
- Lemon Vinaigrette: Bright, fresh and lemony, and a great source of vitamin C. Many of the vitamins in this cucumber salad are fat-soluble and need a fat molecule to be absorbed into your body, and olive oil is a great source. Avocado would be a great source as well, but it can dull some of the other colors of the salad if mixed in, I would add it on the side if you want to add it.
- Salt and Red Pepper Flakes: Just a little heat to really make all the flavors pop.
Can Cucumber Quinoa Salad be modified?
Yes, absolutely. There are tons of summer fruits and vegetables that you can add to make this cucumber salad your own. Here are a few ideas:
- Fennel bulb: Crunchy with a nice anise flavor. Raw fennel can be intense and will overwhelm the other ingredients. If adding fennel, dice it and cook it with the quinoa to mellow it out a little.
- Carrots: The color is a great addition and the crunch is awesome. Carrots can also be cooked with the quinoa if you desire, but raw is great.
- Green Peas: Sweet and a great source of protein and fiber. Definitely use fresh and add them uncooked.
- Orange Segments: Little segments of Mandarin or Clementine oranges are delicious and look great in this cucumber salad recipe. Dang, I need to add them and retake the photographs for this recipe! Haha.
Make Cucumber Salad Ahead
The quinoa is best if made the day before and refrigerated overnight. You want all of the ingredients to be as cold as possible so definitely have all the ingredients refrigerated before preparing.
Cool as a Cucumber
Why do cucumbers and cucumber salads always seem cold? Cucumbers are approximately 95% water, and water does not absorb heat as quickly as the surrounding air. Therefore, cucumbers are actually cooler and remain cold longer than the other salads that have less moisture content. Weird, huh? Science!
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a whole grain that has gained popularity over the last 20-years or so. Quinoa is extremely versatile and is cooked similar to rice. Although there are over 100 varieties of quinoa, the most widely available are white, red, and black, all of which will work great in this salad recipe.
Quinoa is gluten-free, vegan, and contains a significant amount of all nine essential amino acids, making a great source of protein, fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, antioxidants, and iron.
How Long Will Cucumber Salad Last in the Refrigerator?
The beauty of adding quinoa to this cucumber salad is that it absorbs moisture. Many Cucumber salads will begin to release their moisture after a while and get a little soupy, yuck.
Quinoa will continue to absorb the moisture keeping this cucumber salad not only delicious but beautiful for approximately 3-days.
Here is my recipe for Cucumber Quinoa Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
Cucumber Quinoa Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 3/4 Cup Quinoa Yields 1 1/2 cups cooked
- 1 cup Corn About one cob, include juice
- 1 English Cucumber 1/4-inch slices
- 1 Red Bell Pepper 1/4-inch dice
- 1 Red Onion 1/4-inch dice
- 1 Cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
- 3-4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice Fresh lemons, adjust to your taste
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Cook the quinoa per manufacturer's instructions, add the corn while cooking. Refrigerate completely before adding to the salad
- Dice all ingredients and combine with the cooled quinoa in a large bowl
- Mix the vinaigrette and pour over the salad, stir to combine
- Refrigerate, serve very cold.