Summer Quinoa Salad – Hooray for Substitutions!

I am always looking for new quinoa recipes, especially those that use ingredients I already have in my refrigerator. When I saw this Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini recipeon 101 Cookbooks, I knew I had to make it.


I had all the ingredients on hand.

Which is to say, I had good substitutes for all the ingredients on hand. It’s probably a little irreverent of me, but I see a recipe as less a code and more a guideline. :-)

I didn’t have a zucchini, but I had a summer squash. No lemon, but a lime. No dill, but cilantro. No currants, well you get the picture.


I didn’t print out the recipe to bring in the kitchen with me, so I fudged up the process a bit. I cooked the quinoa separately and then added raw vegetables at the end. The original recipe calls for sauteing the onions and the quinoa before adding the water to cook the quinoa. My bad.

The green onions were a bit overpowering; I guess because this recipe has no vinegar. Next time, I will cook the onions first if I am not adding vinegar.

I skipped on the zest. My lime was thin skinned, and I don’t have a decent zester.

I also kept assembling the salad, thinking it was done, taking my photos, and then remembering one more ingredient. As a consequence, my best photos are of the incomplete salad. Though I don’t suppose you can see the difference when I added the sesame seeds.


The toasted sesame seeds were awesome. It’s funny, you can’t see sesame seeds at all in white quinoa but they add this surprising flavor and occasional crisp crunch. People taste the salad and you can see them trying to work out what it is that they taste and feel but cannot see.

Summer Quinoa SaladSummer Quinoa Salad
serves 2-3

½ cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1 medium summer squash, grated on box grater
2 green onions, sliced
½ tsp salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
cayenne pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, reduce heat and cook 12 minutes. When done, remove from heat and let it stand covered until all water is absorbed (if necessary). As I mentioned above, you might want to add your onions to cook with the quinoa.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes. Watch the pan closely and keep the seeds moving so they don’t burn.

Stir in all the other ingredients and either serve salad immediately or chill for a few hours to let the flavors blend.


Have you tried a new quinoa salad lately? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Inspire me with something new today. :-)