Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Rainbow Quinoa Salad is a quick and healthy quinoa salad made with fresh, crunchy veggies, toasted nuts and seeds, and sumac spice, delicious!


Rainbow Quinoa Salad

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A few weeks ago I saw a new mix of quinoa in the bulk section of the grocery store. It was called rainbow quinoa and had three different quinoa varieties mixed together. It looked really cool and I figured it would work well in a salad with lots of fresh, crunchy veggies.

I also experimented with a new spice I got at the Sabra factory courtesy of the Spice Station: Sumac. It’s a really interesting spice and if you can get your hands on some, it goes great in this Rainbow Quinoa Salad.

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Serves 8 as a side
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This is a quick and healthy quinoa salad made with fresh, crunchy veggies, toasted nuts and seeds, and sumac spice, delicious!


2 cups uncooked rainbow quinoa
10-12 radishes, sliced thin
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon sumac, optional
Salt and Pepper

Quick Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper


1) Rinse rainbow quinoa well under cold water. Cook according to package instructions which will most likely mean adding it to 4 cups of simmering water (for 2 cups of quinoa) and simmering on low heat for 18-20 minutes, partially covered.

2) When the water has absorbed from the pan, turn off the heat, cover the quinoa, and let it steam for a few minutes. Then fluff it with a fork.

3) In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar to make a quick dressing. Season with salt and pepper. It isn’t a huge amount of dressing. It should just lightly coat the salad.

4) Chop radishes, red pepper, and cucumber and toss in dressing.

5) When quinoa has cooled slightly, add it to the bowl and stir to combine with dressing and veggies. Season the salad with salt and pepper.

6) In a dry skillet over low heat, add the slivered almonds and sesame seeds and toast until they are fragrant, 4-5 minutes.

7) Serve quinoa salad garnished with toasted nuts and seeds and with a big pinch of sumac spice.

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Cooking the Quinoa

Luckily, even though there are three different kinds of quinoa in this mix, the cooking instructions are essentially the same as any single quinoa variety.


Step one when cooking quinoa is to rinse it really well. It has a tendency to be pretty dirty so rinsing it really well under cold water is always a good idea.

A quick rinse - Rainbow Quinoa Salad
A quick rinse.

Then you need to bring four cups of water to a simmer (2 cups of water per cup of uncooked quinoa). Once it’s simmering, add in the quinoa and simmer it for 18-20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft, but not mushy at all. Once the quinoa has simmered, kill the heat, cover the pot and let it steam for a few minutes.

Then you can lightly fluff the quinoa and it should be perfectly cooked.

Let the quinoa cool a bit as you prepare the other stuff for the salad.

Cooked and steamed - Rainbow Quinoa Salad
Cooked and steamed.

Veggies and Dressing

I just picked a few crunchy veggies for my Rainbow Quinoa Salad. I would say that you can add almost any veggie to this salad as long as it’s fresh and crunchy. I went with radishes, cucumbers (seeded), and red peppers.

I also made a quick and light lemon dressing for the salad by whisking together some olive oil, white wine vinegar, and fresh lemon juice.

Then I just tossed the veggies in the dressing. The dressing should be pretty light.

Veg and dressing for Rainbow Quinoa Salad
Veg and dressing.


There are two toppings that go really well on this Rainbow Quinoa Salad. The first is slivered almonds and sesame seeds. I just lightly toasted both of them in a dry skillet for a few minutes over low heat until they were fragrant.

The toppings.
The toppings.

The second topping is the sumac I mentioned.

I love the color of this spice. It actually has a pretty mild flavor that is almost floral. It’s absolutely not essential to the salad, but if you want to try out a new spice, it works really well.

Very interesting - Rainbow Quinoa Salad
Very interesting.

Finishing the salad is as easy as stirring the quinoa into the dressing and veggies and seasoning it really well with salt and pepper.

Then you serve it up garnished with the toasted nuts and seeds and a big pinch of sumac.

Rainbow Quinoa Salad from Macheesmo

This Rainbow Quinoa Salad would be a great lunch salad during the week, but it has a reasonably short shelf life. Betsy and I noticed that after about three days it started to really break down and wasn’t very good.

The salad also works great as a cold side dish though. I served it at a dinner party a few weeks ago as a side with grilled hamburgers. It was a nice change from chips, fries, or some of the heavier sides that are sometimes served with burgers.

Has anyone experimented with sumac before? It’s kind of an interesting spice!

7 Responses to “Rainbow Quinoa Salad” Leave a comment

  1. Lovely dish! And thanks for the info on sumac. I’d always wondered if it came from that roadside plant. I took a wild foods course once in which we picked sumac berries and made “lemonade” from them.

  2. Hey Eric. Looks great. My family has used sumac since I can remember. Sumac adds a lemony flavor to meats and fish. It had been used for centuries in Africa and the Middle East. Sumac grows wild in the U.S. and Africa and is now cultivated around the world, but be careful some varieties are poisonous.
    I use sumac in marinades for lamb, beef, a d chicken kebabs. It is also great in rubs for grilling. Also try sprinkling sumac over hot cooked saffron rice as a side to your kebabs.

    p.s. Thanks for taking down the pop-up ads on your website.

  3. Yup like Chris mentioned about sumac, I eat some amazing lamb kofta kebabs at a local joint and they use sumac in everything, it’s an awesome flavor. Great Quinoa dish, I’m always looking for ideas for this ingredient!

  4. Found this recipe because I started exploring your “new” website. Interesting that you find that the quinoa has a short shelf life. I usually keep it around for about a week because I keep adding leftovers to it. It has become like the old pot of soup on the stove that never really disappears. One of my favorite things to add is jicama — for the crunch. And I prefer a yogurt dressing to olive oil. But I am inspired to try the sumac!

    Great job on the website. Obviously a lot of work. Of particular appeal is the section devoted to giving a large party.

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