Knockout Quinoa Salad

My Knockout Quinoa Salad combines the intense flavours of sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, pickled baby cucumbers, fresh herbs and a to-die-for dressing. Most salads are best eaten straight away otherwise they go soggy and limp. Not this one!!! It’s probably one of the few salads that actually tastes even better the next day!!

 Knockout Quinoa Salad Knockout Quinoa Salad

Right now, Australia is experiencing a never ending summer with temperatures above 30 C / 86 F on some days, even though we are officially in Autumn. I’m certainly not complaining!! To celebrate what are probably the last traces of an unofficial summer, l’m posting my Knockout Quinoa Salad.

Just a bit about quinoa (KEEN – WAH). Quinoa is actually a flowering plant that is cultivated for its edible seeds. I have seen packaging which refers to quinoa as a grain, and have read other information which refers to it as a pseudo-cereal or pseudo-grain. If you think that’s confusing, it gets even more complex when trying to determine its gluten-free status. What is agreed upon though, is that it’s a good source of protein and contains a number of minerals and B-vitamins.


The pickled baby cucumbers (conichons) and the liquid they are pickled in are my stand-out flavour tips. Even though they are very tiny, they have a sharp taste which gives this salad an extra lift flavour wise. The baby cucumbers are normally bought in jars which contain the brine or vinegar they have been pickled in. The jar l bought this week also contained baby chillies (l didn’t notice that when l bought it), so my salad got an extra unexpected kick. I’ve been converted to buying the baby cucumbers with the chilli from now on!!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes          Cooking Time: 12  minutes          Serves: 4 – 5


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (Note 1)
  • 12 pitted Kalamata olives (chopped roughly)
  • 12 sun dried tomatoes (Note 2)
  • 1 tomato (diced into small cubes)
  • 1 small red capsicum (pepper) (diced into small cubes)
  • 15 pickled baby cucumbers (sliced)
  • handful of basil (Note 3)
  • 1 cup parsley (roughly chopped)

The Dressing

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp pickling liquid (Note 4)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. In a small – medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water with 1 cup of quinoa. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12 minutes (do not remove the lid during cooking time). The liquid will evaporate during simmering. Quinoa is cooked when the germ of the kernel spirals out (see photo). After cooking, remove from heat and allow it to sit covered for a further 10 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the saucepan and place in a separate dish to cool down for another 10 minutes. To speed things up, l place my dish in the fridge for a few minutes.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.
  3. Place the salad ingredients in a bowl, pour the dressing over the top and and mix gently. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Best eaten cold. This week we’ve had this salad twice, once with Oregano and Lemon Lamb Chops and the second time with Baked Salmon. 


  1. The most commercialised types of quinoa are the red, black and white varieties. For this salad, l bought a packet which had a combination of all 3 colours.
  2. I suggest buying the sun dried tomatoes in strips that have been marinated in olive oil. Being already cut into strips, makes chopping a them a bit easier given how slippery they are.
  3. I grow a variety of basil that has very tiny leaves (see photos). Regular basil will do, just chop it roughly.
  4. The baby cucumbers l buy come in jars with their own pickling liquid. Combining 1 tbsp of this liquid with the dressing ingredients adds extra flavour (especially if you buy it marinated with chilli as l accidentally did).

Quinoa is a beautiful alternative to the more commonly used grains and add lots of texture to a dish. It’s also a great salad for making ahead of time as it keeps well!!