Top | Deborah Madison

Black Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Red Onion, and Tomato

(recipe, Deborah Madison)

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If you want to include greens such as spinach, chard, or beet greens, use about a pound, wilt them in a covered pan, then drain and finely chop them. Toss them with the grains, then go on to add what you will. There are so many vegetable (and fruit) goodies that can find a way to work in this salad: diced cucumbers, finely diced beets cooked in water and vinegar, pickled chard stems, and in fall, pomegranates and sliced Fuyu persimmons. This is the kind of salad you can take through the year.


  1. Sea salt
  2. 1 cup black quinoa, rinsed
  3. 1 small red onion, sliced in thin rounds
  4. ¼ cup or more rice vinegar
  5. Grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  6. ¼ cup olive oil
  7. 1 tsp. toasted cumin seeds, ground
  8. Finely sliced chives or scallions, about 2 tablespoons
  9. Chopped fresh oregano and/or mint, about 1 tablespoon
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 large and ripe but firm avocado, halved and sliced
  12. Crumbled feta cheese
  13. 10 cherry tomatoes, Sun Gold or other type, halved
  14. Sunflower sprouts


  1. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to 2½ cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in the rinsed quinoa; return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. When the white germ is visible and the grains are slightly crunchy but done, remove and drain in a strainer to wick off any excess liquid. Place the quinoa in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the sliced onion in the rice vinegar to soften its flavor and bring out its color.
  3. Whisk the lemon zest and lemon juice with the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and cumin. Pour it over the warm quinoa and toss with the chives and oregano. Let it cool, then taste it for salt and season with pepper.
  4. Tip the quinoa onto a platter, then cover the surface with the now-pickled onion, avocado slices, crumbled cheese, and tomato halves; sprinkle sunflower sprouts over all. Pepper well, and serve.


Culinate editor's note: Red quinoa works just as well as black quinoa in this salad.