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Chef Nikki Cascone's Red Quinoa Salad Recipe


Quinoa, considered almost a complete protein, is wonderful tossed in salads like this one.

Click here to see the Mommy-To-Be Eating Q&A with Nikki Cascone.


  • 2 cups quinoa, red or regular
  • Salt
  • 1 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the quinoa
  • 2 oranges, 1 segmented, the other juiced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon honey or agave syrup
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ½ pound sugar snap peas, or best seasonal replacement, raw or cooked in boiling water for 1 minute, and cut into very thin strips
  • ¼ pound lightly toasted and salted pumpkin seeds


Cook quinoa in boiling water (at least 4 cups water to 1 cup quinoa), according to package instructions, until the quinoa is somewhat crunchy and not over cooked or mushy. Strain and rinse immediately under ice cold water to stop the cooking. Let it sit at room temperature in a mixing bowl large enough to hold all of your ingredients. Season the quinoa with salt and moisten with a touch olive oil.

Squeeze the orange juice into a mixing bowl to make the vinaigrette. Then add the lemon juice and drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify.  Add the honey or agave syrup, season with salt and whisk until all ingredients come together. Taste for balance and adjust accordingly.

When the quinoa is cool, add the orange segments, shallots and cilantro to it. Season quinoa with salt and some of the vinaigrette, toss to combine. Blanch the peas if you are doing so, then cut them into thin strips and add to the quinoa.  Add a little vinaigrette, just enough to coat, and reserve the remaining vinaigrette to garnish the finished plate.

Toss in toasted pumpkin seeds and serve with some fresh cilantro for garnish.

To serve, drizzle some vinaigrette around the plate. You can also add grilled or pan-seared shrimp or any fresh seafood to the dish.

Click here to see the Crusted Salmon with Red Lentils and Herbs Salad recipe.