Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad

Quick easy quinoa salad with cucumbers and mint. Perfect for a summer picnic salad!

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Are you a gardener? What kind of cucumbers do you grow? I used to grow lemon cucumbers, but gave up because they got too big and seedy. These days I’m growing Persian cucumbers, which are beautifully thin skinned, with delicate seeds. I usually pick them when they are still on the small side, but even when they grow as big as regular cucumbers, they’re still not at all bitter.

The cucumbers are just now coming in, which means every day I have a small harvest that needs to used (or given away to lucky neighbors). This recipe is inspired by a quinoa cucumber salad I had while visiting my fellow gardener food bloggers Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple. It’s wonderfully simple, just cooked red quinoa tossed with chopped fresh cucumbers and mint, and dressed with seasoned rice vinegar. You can also add a chopped avocado to the salad if you want it to be a little more substantial.

By the way, quinoa looks and acts like a grain, but it’s actually a seed, and therefore higher in protein and lower in starch than most grains.

Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

If you don't have seasoned rice vinegar, just add a little honey or sugar and some salt and pepper to regular rice vinegar until you get the balance of sweet and sour you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (we prefer red quinoa)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if thick-skinned, unpeeled if thin-skinned (about 3/4 pound cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint
  • 1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion or chopped chives
  • 3-4 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped (optional)

Method

bring quinoa and water to a boil cook for 15 minutes

1 Check your package of quinoa. If it says to rinse it, then rinse it. If not, then skip. Place the quinoa in a 1 1/2 to 2 quart sized saucepan. Add the water. Add half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked. Remove from heat.

spread quinoa out on a sheet pan to quickly cool

2 Let the cooked quinoa cool to room temperature. You can help cool down the quinoa quickly by spreading it out on a sheet pan.

cut cucumbers in half and then quarters scrape seeds out of cucumbers

3 Cut the cucumber in half in the middle. Then cut each half lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out most of the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumber pieces again, this time crosswise in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick slices.

mix cucumber mint with quinoa

4 When the quinoa has cooled, place it in a large bowl and gently with the cucumber chunks, the mint, and green onion. Sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar and toss again. Sprinkle with olive oil and gently toss. Add more salt or seasoned rice vinegar to taste. Gently fold in chopped avocado if using.

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Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Cindy

    This is so delicious! I make a lot of different quinoa recipes, and tested this one out for a derby day progressive dinner with 80 people. The planning committee loved it so we made a giant batch for the dinner on Saturday night. We had wonderful food, including bourbon marinated flank steak, duchess potatoes, and veggies and herb butter. But the one recipe talked about over and over by all of the people was this one!! People raved about it and I’ve shared it with multiple people already. We mixed red and white quinoa and included the avocado (which is never optional to me-love it!). Big hit! I’ll be making it all summer.

  • Nikki

    Elise, another winning recipe from you! I’m Asian, and *I* didn’t know I could use seasoned rice vinegar on something other than sushi rice, haha! I find myself coming back to you again and again for ideas. I fell in love with cooking in 2008, and your site is still on the top of my bookmark list after all these years.

  • Emily @ don't miss dairy

    I just made this tonight to go along with grilled chicken. Wonderful recipe and easy to put together! Thanks so much!

  • Pat

    Hi, Elise! I did make this salad tonight for dinner and it was very good! I had an avocado but just added the slices to the individual plates. There is still enough for lunch tomorrow. Thanks :)

  • Pat

    Delicious sounding salad and beautiful photos. I have everything on hand but a cucumber and, unfortunately, I am not growing any in my garden. Off to the store and buying one…..it’s what’s for dinner tonight. I will report back to you :)

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