A healthy and refreshing, summer quinoa salad recipe that’s packed with flavour and fresh summer ingredients and easy to make in less than 30 minutes.

A bowl of a summer quinoa salad with nectarines, chickpeas, mint, almonds and cherry tomatoes.

Introduction

This healthy quinoa summer salad features tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, corn, nectarine and fresh herbs for a delicious combination of fresh summer flavours.

Quick and easy to make with just a handful of simple, wholesome ingredients, you’ll love this recipe for a light main or versatile side dish.

This is a wonderful salad to take along to a potluck or serve at a BBQ, it’s easy to customize and it can be prepped in advance for convenience. It’s also hydrating and refreshing, perfect for the warmer months.

This black bean mango salad, edamame mango salad, corn black bean salad, Tuscan kale salad, broccoli apple salad and Ramen noodle salad are all also excellent summer salads.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients, variations and how to make it before getting to the full recipe at the end of the post.

Ingredient Notes

This section covers notes on ingredients and possible substitutions but is not complete. Please see the recipe card at then end of the post for the complete ingredient list with measurements.

All the ingredients for a summer quinoa salad recipe gathered in bowls and each labelled with text overlay.

For the Quinoa Salad

  • Quinoa: You can use any variety of quinoa – white, red or tri colour.
  • Nectarines: Nectarines are fairly firm so hold up well in salads. You could substitute peach, plum, apricot or a mix of stone fruit.
  • Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas are good here. Rinse well before adding to the salad. You can substitute black beans or white beans.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Grape or cherry tomatoes work best. If you don’t like tomato or don’t have it available, you can leave it out.
  • Corn: If fresh corn on the cob is available that’s lovely here. Try grilling it before adding to the salad for extra flavour. If you don’t have fresh corn available, you can use canned or frozen kernels.
  • Herbs: Use any mixture of basil, mint, parsley, cilantro and chives.
  • Almonds: Substitute cashews, walnuts, pecans or for a nut-free salad, use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

For the Dressing

  • Olive Oil: A good extra virgin olive oil is best.
  • Vinegar: The recipe calls for white white vinegar but you could substitue red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • Maple Syrup: You can substitute honey or agave syrup.
  • Dijon: Use any dijon or whole grain mustard.
  • Garlic: The recipe calls for a clove of garlic but you can substitue 1 tsp garlic powder if needed.

Variations

  • Summer Chickpea Salad: Omit the quinoa and add an additional 15 oz can of chickpeas.
  • Cheese: Goat cheese or feta would make a good addition. The saltiness of the cheese pairs well with sweet nectarine and corn.
  • For creamy richness, top with diced avocado when serving.
  • For crunch and tanginess, add pickled red onions.
  • For an extra boost of protein, flavour and colour, add up to 1 cup cooked edamame.
  • Try incorporating grilled summer vegetables such as zucchini, bell pepper or asparagus.
  • Serve over a base of arugula or baby spinach for extra nutrition.
  • Alternative Dressings:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Quinoa

Add the quinoa to a medium pot with 1.25 cups of water and season with salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over then cover reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let it cool somewhat before mixing it into the salad.

A pot of cooked quinoa with a fork in it.

Step 2: Make the Dressing

Add all of the salad dressing ingredients to a large bowl (the bowl you plan to mix the salad in). Season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

A small amount of a vinaigrette salad dressing in a large mixing bowl.

Step 3: Prep the Veggies

While the quinoa finished cooking and cooling, prep the veggies, nectarine and herbs, and prepare the corn, chickpeas and almonds.

Chopped fresh herbs, nectarine, cherry tomato and cucumber on a cutting board with a knife.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

Add the nectarines, cucumbers, chickpeas, tomatoes, corn and herbs and stir to combine.

Quick Tip: No quinoa? No problem. You can stop here and still have a delicious, fresh summer salad.

Add the quinoa, mix it all up, then taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Summer quinoa salad with nectarine, chickpeas, tomato, herbs and corn in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.

Serve quinoa in a serving bowl or divide between servings topped with the toasted almonds. Enjoy your gorgeous salad!

A bowl of a summer quinoa salad with nectarines, chickpeas, mint, slivered almonds and cherry tomatoes.

Recipe FAQs

Can I substitute quinoa with another grain?

Absolutely! You can substitute it with other grains like couscous, bulgur, farro or even brown rice. Keep in mind that different grains may require adjustments in cooking time and liquid ratios.

Can I add a protein source to make the salad more filling?

Certainly! Adding protein to the salad or serving as a side to a protein is a great idea.

Besides chickpeas, you can include grilled chicken, tofu, edamame, or even roasted tempeh to boost the protein content.

You could also serve it along side a protein like this marinated tempeh or any main dish.

Can I make the salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the salad in advance. The whole salad can be prepared and assembled one day in advance but for freshness, I’d suggest just making the quinoa and dressing in advance.

When you’re ready to serve, prep your fresh ingredients and assemble shortly before serving.

Quinoa salad with tomato, corn, nectarine, chickpeas, fresh herbs and slivered almonds in a bowl.

Storing

  • The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in a container in the fridge.
  • The quinoa can be cooked 1-2 days ahead and stored in the fridge.
  • The whole salad can be assembled a day ahead and stored in the fridge. Leave the almonds off until serving (not required but suggested to leave off until serving so they’re crunchy).
  • The assembled salad will keep 2-3 days in the fridge.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Colourful quinoa salad in a bowl with chickpeas, corn, nectarine, tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Summer Quinoa Salad

A fresh and flavourful, healthy summer quinoa salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, nectarine, corn and fresh herbs tossed in a zesty vinaigrette.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan
Servings: 6
Author: Deryn Macey

Ingredients

For the Quinoa Salad

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed (145 g)
  • 2-3 nectarines diced (215 g, about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cucumber diced (165 g, about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed (2 cups, 340 g)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved (160 g)
  • 1 cup corn kernels 190 g, can be frozen kernels or shaved off the cob
  • 1 cup mixed herbs basil, mint, parsley, chives, cilantro, finely chopped (30 g)
  • ½ cup sliced or slivered almonds toasted (65 g)

For the Dressing

  • cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Cook Quinoa: To a medium pot, add quinoa and 1 ¼ cups water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 14-15 min, until tender and water is absorbed. Remove the pot from heat. Let rest, covered, for 5 mins. Fluff quinoa with a fork. Let cool slightly before tossing with salad ingredients.
  • Make Dressing: Meanwhile, to a large bowl, add oil, lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. 
  • Prep Veggies: While quinoa is cooking and resting, chop the veggies, nectarine and fresh herbs. 
  • Assemble Salad: To the bowl with dressing, add nectarines, cucumbers, chickpeas, tomatoes, corn and herbs. Stir to combine. Add cooled quinoa. Season with salt and pepper, then toss well to combine. Taste, then season again, if needed.
  • Serve: Serve quinoa in a serving bowl or divide between bowls. Top with toasted almonds.

Video

Notes

Quinoa can be cooked and cooled ahead of time. Dressing can be made 2-3 days ahead of time. Great make-ahead salad for picnics, lunches and BBQ. The whole salad can be assembled one day ahead, leave almonds off until serving.
Any stone fruit, such as peaches, plums or apricots, or a mix, work well.
Summer Chickpea Salad: Omit the quinoa and add an additional 15 oz can of chickpeas for a fresh summer chickpea salad. You could also just use one can of chickpeas and add a bit extra fruit, corn, tomato and cucumber. Avocado would be good too.