I love when recipes are customizable, meaning it’s very easy to make substitutions to fit what you’re craving.

This salad, for example, has quinoa, cucumber, sweet cherries, pistachios, feta and parsley and is tossed with a fresh orange vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

But next time I make it, I might use farro (an ancient grain), strawberries, spinach, almonds, goat cheese and mint with a fresh lemon vinaigrette dressing. The base of the salad is essentially the same, but I can swap out my grain, veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese and herbs to whatever makes me happy that day … or whatever I have leftover in my fridge, realistically.

And what’s extra cool is that this is one way to learn to cook without using a recipe. You start by customizing simple recipes like this one, and you eventually don’t require a recipe to throw something together that’s absolutely delicious.

I also like to pay attention to the colors in a recipe. I try to mix things up so I get at least two colors in each dish I make because those colors provide different, important nutrients.

And it also makes the presentation of the dish extra special.

So tell me – what are you going to put in your summer salad?

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Cucumber & Cherry Quinoa Salad

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No-Cook

Description

A quinoa salad with sweet cherries, cucumber, pistachios, feta and a fresh orange dressing.


Scale

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 medium orange (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium English cucumber
  • 1 ½ cups sweet cherries, pitted and sliced
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the orange zest and juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon, honey, olive oil, salt and black pepper until combined.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, cucumber, cherries, pistachios and feta. Add the dressing as desired and toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Top with parsley to serve.

Notes

Cooking Tip: To cook quinoa, add 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed and the germ pops out from the quinoa seed. Fluff with a fork.

Substitution Tip: Use any combination of grain, vegetable, fruit, nut, crumbly cheese and herb in this recipe.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 201
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 161mg
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Cholesterol: 8mg

Keywords: salad, grain salad, quinoa salad, quinoa, cherry, cherries, cucumber, vinaigrette

24 Comments

  1. Beth on June 24, 2019 at 8:48 am

    This sounds yummy!! One enhancement that I would find helpful is a more detailed serving size. For example, instead of the serving size being 1/8th of the recipe, could it be 1/8th or approximately 2/3 cups? I would find that very helpful with portion control.

    • Julie Andrews on June 24, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Beth – that is great feedback! I can start doing that. Thanks so much for letting me know!

  2. Robin Hodge on June 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    This looks and sounds great other than the sugar content. The fruit in itself is healthy due to the fiber content but the other sugars should be eliminated. One gram of sugar = 4 teaspoons so if nothing is changed then a serving of this salad contains 36 teaspoons of sugar. I would suggest using yellow mustard instead and nixing the honey especially if you are trying to eat less sugar.

    • Eric on June 24, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Robin. You have your conversion backwards. A teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4.2 grams by weight. This recipe has about 2 teaspoons worth of sugar per serving.

      • Julie Andrews on June 24, 2019 at 7:55 pm

        Thanks Eric!

    • Julie Andrews on June 24, 2019 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Robin – there is 9g of sugar per serving of this recipe (8 servings in the entire batch). The only added sugar is the honey, which is 1 tablespoon for the entire recipe, which provides about 2g of sugar per serving. The rest is from naturally-occurring sugars found in the cherries, orange and a very small amount from the quinoa and cucumber. You can certainly leave out the 1 tablespoon of honey – I put it in the dressing to balance the acidity from the vinegar, but it is certainly not required. I hope that answers your question!

  3. Eve Torney on June 24, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Would rice vinegar be a good sub for the white wine vinegar?

    • Julie Andrews on June 24, 2019 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Eve! I would actually recommend apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar or lemon juice if you have any of those on hand. I don’t think rice wine vinegar would be bad, but has a bit of a different flavor profile than the others. Let me know what you try!

      • Eve Torney on July 1, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        Awesome and thank you Julie. I’ll give apple cider vinegar a try when I make this.

        • Julie Andrews on July 1, 2019 at 6:31 pm

          Enjoy, Eve!!

  4. Srikanth on June 25, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Hi Julie ,

    that sounds really great recipe and why we add few crushed cashews and fried almonds that make little awesome hope it adds little more healthy diet.

    • Julie Andrews on June 25, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Wow, Srikanth, that sounds fantastic!! It will certainly round out this fabulous salad. 🙂

  5. Hilary C on June 25, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Be sure and rinse the quinoa very well before cooking it.

    • Julie Andrews on June 25, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Great tip, Hilary!

  6. Annette Arroyo on June 25, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    this looks amazing! I must try it asap 🙂

    • Julie Andrews on June 25, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks, Annette! I certainly hope you love it!

  7. Letitia on June 26, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    I would like to see Diabetic friendly recipes. Why is there not a category for that on “stride in the kitchen”? I am diabetic and welcome new recipes and I am sure I am not the only one. This one sounds great but with 23 carbs per serving, it is a bit much for a diabetic meal plan.

    • Julie Andrews on June 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Letitia – thanks for your feedback! We are always looking for ways to improve and expand what we offer on the site, and with this being new, we will definitely evolve, and your feedback is super helpful. The recipes I post are “all over the map” from a dietary needs and preference standpoint – for example, some recipes are lower in carbs, like the Asparagus Caprese Salad and Veggie-Loaded Breakfast Casserole, while others that contain plant-based products (like beans and grains), may be moderate or a bit higher in carbs, and my goal is to provide a wide variety of recipes for everyone to enjoy. With that said, most of the recipes can be altered to accommodate specific needs, and with diabetes specifically, it really depends on the person on what works well for them. If 23 grams is a bit high for a meal, I’d suggest doing a smaller portion of the salad and pairing it with salmon or chicken and non-starchy veggies or something similar. Let me know if that’s helpful!

  8. Lisa Aldrich on June 27, 2019 at 8:32 am

    I made this for dinner Tuesday evening. After coming home from the grocery store I realized I forgot to pick up an orange. So I substituted the juice of half a grapefruit (skipped the rind part) and used apple cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar. Still super delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Julie Andrews on July 1, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      Such great substitution ideas! And I love grapefruit – what a great idea to put it in a dressing!

  9. Christina Garcia on June 30, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious, I love trying new healthy recipes!

    • Julie Andrews on July 1, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Awesome! Let me know how it turns out, Christina! Lots more healthy recipes to come… 🙂

  10. Cynthia Monarca on July 2, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Made a version with substitutions for the extended family this week. I received rave reviews including from the kids. I pulled out the cheese, added small amount of canned beans and used plain Greek yogurt in the dressing to make it a creamy vinaigrette and let everyone add own desired amount of dressing. Still enjoying it for lunch yesterday and today. Great to see this recipe. Go Stride Go!

    • Julie Andrews on July 2, 2019 at 10:27 am

      YUM, Cynthia! That sounds so delicious. I love the idea of adding in yogurt to make the dressing creamy. I’ll definitely be trying that next time! 🙂

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