• Difficulty Easy
  • 14 Ingredients


Since quinoa started making headlines in Western cooking and making the racks in supermarkets, people have hilariously misspelled the pseudo-cereal in myriad ways.

Pronounced ‘KEEN-wah’, the grain has been called ‘quinwa’, ‘qinoa’, ‘quina’, and even phonetically as ‘keenwah’! But in all honesty, the spelling of ‘qiona salad’ takes the win for me. Too funny!

In all seriousness, this healthy little grain is grown in South America and was a staple food for the Incas. Although it behaves like a grain and is similar to couscous, quinoa is actually a seed, and strangely enough comes from the same food family as beets, chard and spinach, according to BBC Good Food!

When making any kind of quinoa salad (or qiona salad, if you’d prefer) it’s important to make the most of your qiona salad by treating the quinoa (and your diet!) right.

Prepare the quinoa well

Make sure you rinse the dry quinoa seeds before you cook them, because it will give your ‘qiona salad’ a tasty, nutty flavour.

Go crazy with colour in your qiona salad

Choose lots of brightly coloured veggies to add to your ‘qiona salad’ – the more vibrant the better! For reds I usually go for raw or roasted capsicum, cherry tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes. I always love adding kumara (sweet potato) to all my salads for an orange colour, but orange capsicum or carrot work too! I use yellow capsicum for the yellow colour, and obviously there’s plenty to choose from for greens! Rocket, spinach, herbs, peas, cucumber and the more bitter green capsicum fit here. Blue… yeah, nah. Purple is easy with raw or sauteed red onion, purple sweet potato or purple carrot. You can even indulge the shades by adding creamy, white feta cheese and black kalamata olives in your ‘qiona salad’!

Maximise flavour with your dressing

Quinoa is a great base for adding protein and chew to a salad, but doesn’t have much flavour on its own. The veggies will add their own nice flavours, but adding an extra-flavoursome dressing for the salad is imperative! The quinoa will absorb the dressing over time.

Below is a recipe for a summery, fresh and cold quinoa salad (AKA qiona salad) to be enjoyed as a light dinner, as a BBQ side dish, or as lunchbox material. Other additions can be feta cheese, olives, and even dried fruit! Make it your own.


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rocket leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Any leftover roast veggies like kumara, onion or capsicum
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs (depends what you have in your garden, but parsley goes best I think!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional, but I like salted almonds or honey cashews)
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Mustard, dijon or wholegrain, to taste
  • Honey, to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Rinse the quinoa in water, before adding to the pot with 2 cups of water. Cook until the water has been totally absorbed by the quinoa, about 10-15 minutes. After it's cooked, take the pot off the heat and pop a lid onto it to fluff up the quinoa for about 5 minutes.
  2. Whilst the quinoa is on the boil, chop up all of your salad ingredients and veggies (after washing them) and add to a serving bowl.
  3. In a small jar, add the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, some of the herbs, mustard and honey) to a jar and shake well to combine. Add more of the ingredients to taste.
  4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, then add to the veggie bowl. Mix the two, and then add the dressing. Season to taste and enjoy!

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