The Italian Quinoa Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette is my favorite way to eat quinoa. The Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette takes it to the next level. It’s delicious as a side or main dish, and you’ll love it either way.

This quinoa salad recipe is perfect if you’re searching for a light and healthy salad option. It includes zucchini, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and arugula, bringing fresh and bright flavors. It’s a great pick for spring and summer and is always well-appreciated whenever I make it.

close-up photo of a bowl of Italian quinoa salad

Italian Quinoa Salad with sweet lemon garlic vinaigrette is light and refreshing, perfect for lunch or dinner. It is made with tomatoes, arugula (which happens to be my favorite green), basil, zucchini, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a seed with lots of protein and fiber – a better choice than rice and so delicious in this salad. It pairs perfectly with all of the fresh flavors – I can’t get enough of it when I make it.

It’s inspired by my Italian Kale Salad, which both the hubby and I love. I have to admit it’s a shocker because he seems to have an intolerance to anything green and leafy-like unless it is drenched in homemade ranch dressing. The kale salad, however, changed that, and I think it was because of the homemade lemon dressing, so I took many of those same ideas and came up with this recipe I’m sharing today.

This Italian quinoa salad turned out just perfect. Flavorful, yet light. And the best part is that it is an excellent source of protein.

This dressing is delicious and so simple to make. I like to make it first and then pop it in the fridge while I assemble the rest of the dish. That way, all the flavors meld together.

overhead photo of a quinoa salad

Ingredients

  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped basil
  • Roughly chopped arugula
  • Sliced and quartered zucchini
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes (roasted tomatoes are delicious, too)
  • Cubed fresh mozzarella
  • Italian seasoning
  • Pinch of salt
photo of the vinaigrette in a jar

How do you make Italian Quinoa Salad?

Just combine all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Secure the lid, give it a good shake, and then chill it while you prep and assemble the rest of the ingredients. You can also make this dressing a few days before and keep it in the refrigerator until ready.

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions, and once cooked, set it in the fridge so it can cool. While it cools, prepare the vegetables for the salad.

overhead photo of the salad ingredients being combined

Once the quinoa has cooled, add to the serving bowl, add arugula, basil, zucchini, and tomatoes; gently toss to combine. Toss the fresh mozzarella with a tablespoon of Italian or Tuscan seasoning. Add the cheese with the seasonings to the salad.

Add the chilled dressing to the salad and gently toss. Serve immediately or set in the fridge until ready to serve, up to one hour before.

photo of the salad with the cheese and seasonings added

Recipe Tips

You can prepare the dressing and cook the quinoa ahead of time to make things easier. Then you have to add the veggies, toss, and serve it!

Quinoa salad will last for two to three days in the refrigerator. Just keep it in an airtight container.

This is such a wonderful dish to share at a potluck or BBQ! It holds well at room temperature, and the flavors pair with many other dishes.

You can also make it a main dish by adding some grilled chicken – a light and flavorful meal.

close-up photo of the finished salad in a bowl

I’ve shared this salad with friends, family, and neighbors; it always gets five-star reviews.

More fun salad recipes you will like

Don’t forget to pin this to your favorite Pinterest board to save for later!

Italian Quinoa Salad

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 -6
Calories: 490 kcal
This Italian Quinoa Salad is simply my favorite way to eat quinoa ever, especially with this Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette. Seriously, grab a fork and dig in.
close-up photo of the finished salad in a bowl

Ingredients
 

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups fresh arugula roughly chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or roasted tomatoes chopped
  • 8 ounces mozzarella al fresca drained
  • 1 tablespoon Italian or Tuscan seasoning
  • Pinch salt

Sweet Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Make the vinaigrette by mixing together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, and salt in a small mason jar or bowl. Set in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.
  • Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
  • Once quinoa is cooked, set in the fridge and chill until completely cooled. Meanwhile prepare arugula, tomatoes, basil, and zucchini, chopping as directed.
  • Once the quinoa has cooled, add to serving bowl, add arugula, basil, zuchinni, and tomatoes; gently toss to combine.
  • Toss the fresh mozzarella with the tablespoon of Italian or Tuscan seasoning. Add the cheese with the seasoning to the salad.
  • Add chilled dressing to the salad and gently toss.
  • Serve immediately or set in the fridge until ready to serve, up to 1 hour before.
Calories: 490kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 20gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 353mgPotassium: 630mgFiber: 6gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 830IUVitamin C: 25.4mgCalcium: 296mgIron: 3.9mg
close-up photo of the finished salad in a bowl
Tried this recipe?Let us know what you think!

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37 Comments

  1. Hi! This looks great. Wondering if you need to cook the zucchini before or add it to the salad raw? Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    This is SUPER GOOD. I’m vegan so i subbed the cheese for avocado 😀 Also threw in some pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes and omg it was 10/10.

    1. So glad to hear you enjoyed it! I’m not vegan but I definitely will try using avocados instead next time, it sounds absolutely delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    This went perfectly with our lunch today! My hubby and I loved this salad, so delicious and very tasty! One of our new favorites! Thank you for this recipe!

4.84 from 24 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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