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Busy Weeknight Dinner- Make Ahead Tomato Quinoa Salad

This article featuring my make ahead tomato quinoa salad was originally a sponsored post. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Delicious veggie quinoa salad recipe

Yesterday was the first day of school around here. I have no first day of school photos.

Shhh I faked it today, and in 20 years no one will ever know.

Why do I have no first day photos? My 12 year old daughter refused to take a shower. She’s gets grumpy when she’s hungry sometimes.

She went so far as to spray her arms with water from a spray bottle to convince me she’d taken a shower. Fortunately, we’re walkers, so if she chose to be late (and deal with school consequences), that’s her issue.

The good news is she realized she needed to shower to leave the house and decided she didn’t want to be late. Forty minutes after she first refused, she took her shower and made it to school. She missed out on breakfast out with my husband and son, but I kept my cool and it worked.

Tell me you don’t have days like this in your house.

Today, both kids start cross country, which is every single day after school from now until early October. That’s on top of homework, tae kwon do (with a thankfully flexible schedule), and my daughter’s lacrosse.

To say I’ll be spinning in multiple directions even more than trying to work from home over the summer with kids who need all the things all the time puts it mildly.

Any time I can create a quick, satisfying meal with minimal effort, I’m all over it. I tend to have less time and energy right now as I get used to this schedule (and my kids’ odd resistance to showering), so I can’t spend an hour or two on dinner every evening.

That’s where this make ahead tomato quinoa salad comes in. Not only can I prep various pieces of it throughout the day when I have time, but it tastes better on day two and day three than it does right after I make it.

In fact, I often double the recipe to ensure I have leftovers throughout the week. I love pizza and salad for a meal, but lettuce salads require real time prep (especially the way I make my salads) and their leftovers are subpar.

My make ahead quinoa pairs beautifully with pizza and has added benefits, too. The quinoa gives added protein. Plus, it’s filled with veggies in a form my kids enjoy.

Make ahead tomato quinoa salad with pizza dinner

Since I fixed the make ahead tomato quinoa salad long before anyone complains of hungry, I pull that from the fridge and before the first, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” echoes through my house, the table is set with a delicious meal everyone feels good about.

What to pair this recipe with:

Tips to Make Your Make Ahead Tomato Quinoa Salad Even Easier

This salad comes together easily, and yes, you can make different pieces at different times throughout the day between loads of laundry, a trip to the gym, running kids everywhere, and more.

Cut your cucumbers and tomatoes straight into your colander in the sink. First, why dirty a second bowl, and second…why make a mess.

You know the first time I mixed this up, I had the colander sitting on my counter and ended up with a wet, messy counter. Duh. Just put the colander in the sink so it drains away.

I love when I can avoid extra messes!
Drain chopped veggies in the sink in a colander

When you cut your cucumber, use a spoon to scrape down the center and remove the seeds easily. It takes just a few seconds, and even little kids can help with this step.

Then save your spoon. Use it to taste your finished make ahead tomato quinoa salad once its assembled to ensure you have the flavors the way you like them.
Use a spoon to seed a cucumber

If you forget to make this salad in advance, it’s ok. You can’t add the veggies until the quinoa cools.

Cool it quickly by getting a larger bowl and adding ice and some water, then putting your bowl of hot quinoa inside it. Stir for a few minutes and voila!
Cool quinoa quickly with an ice bath

Make a double batch and enjoy it all week long. There’s minimal extra prep for a lot of extra yumminess.

Is this recipe vegan?

Yes, this tomato quinoa salad is in fact vegan – and gluten free. As written, this recipe uses vegetable stock to make the quinoa. However you can also very easily make this tomato quinoa with chicken stock  if you prefer.

Swap out the vegetable stock in the recipe for an equal amount of chicken stock if that’s all you have on hand.

If you don’t have stock, you can use water, but it will lack the same flavor. Stock really boosts the flavor of the quinoa when you cook it, so I don’t recommend leaving it out.

Do not use bouillon cubes, however. They are salty and don’t have the same flavor stock does. If you have them, pitch them entirely.

If you don’t make your own stock, consider using the Better than Bouillon concentrate. It resembles a stock far more and has a good flavor to it.

Pro tip: Use chicken or vegetable stock when you make rice and couscous, too. It definitely makes it even more flavorful without adding (m)any calories.

What tomatoes are best for this tomato and quinoa salad?

Because you’re eating the tomatoes raw, you want to use tomatoes that have a lot of flavor. Smaller tomatoes tend to have more flavor than large ones (generally), but you can use just about any tomato you choose.

I found great yellow Campari tomatoes so used half those and half traditional red grape tomatoes. Once summer ends, I won’t find those yellow tomatoes anymore, so I’ll make this with all red tomatoes.

I love the added flavor and color yellow tomatoes add though! Use what you have on hand.

If you use larger tomatoes like roma or heirloom tomatoes, seed them before you cut them into pieces. You don’t want or need the extra seeds or juice in this recipe.

Can I use dried parsley instead of fresh parsley?

While this recipe really shines with fresh parsley, if you only have dried parsley, you can make it work.

Fresh parsley is bright and delicious, and it adds a slightly different flavor profile than dried parsley. That doesn’t take into account the parsley flakes versus chopped parsley leaves texture.

However, if dried parsley is your only option, add it to your quinoa as it cooks instead of at the end. This gives it time and liquid for the flavor to bloom.

Additionally, dried parsley is far more potent than fresh parsley. The rule of thumb: use 1/3 as much dried parsley as you do fresh parsley. Here, use two teaspoons of dried parlsey.

How to Mix Up Make Ahead Tomato Quinoa Salad

Add some water to your pot with the quinoa. Use your hands to massage the quinoa, which helps remove any bitterness.

Pour it through a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Return the quinoa to the pot and add the two cups of stock. 

Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 10 minutes until the quinoa absorbs all the stock. Place cooked quinoa in a bowl large enough to hold your salad and let cool to room temp.

Place your cooked quinoa into the fridge if you aren’t assembling the rest of the salad now.

While the quinoa cooks, prep your veggies. Cut cucumbers and tomatoes into bite size pieces.

Add both to a colander. Sprinkle salt over the veggies and toss to distribute. Place the colander in your sink and let it drain for at least a half hour.

While the veggies release their water, mince the shallots and garlic and set them aside. Chop your fresh parsley.

Once the quinoa cools to room temperature, add your veggies, shallots, garlic, and parsley to the quinoa. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil, then stir.

Lastly, add the salt and pepper to taste and stir again. Adjust the seasonings as needed.

Easy weeknight salad with quinoa and veggies

Serve immediately or refrigerate up to four days.

Have you tried a make ahead tomato quinoa salad?

Make Ahead Tomato Quinoa Salad

This make-ahead tomato quinoa salad is a perfect complement to any meal. Enjoy it with any weeknight meal or bring it to a potluck. Bonus? It's naturally gluten-free and dairy-free - and it tastes fantastic.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 5 cups
Calories: 101kcal
Author: Michelle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Add water to pot with quinoa and massage, then rinse thoroughly. Return quinoa to pot and add two cups stock. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 10 minutes until the quinoa absorbs all the stock. Let quinoa cool to room temp.
    1 cup quinoa, 2 cups chicken stock
  • While the quinoa cooks, prep veggies. Cut cucumbers and tomatoes into bite size pieces. Add both to a colander. Sprinkle salt over the veggies and toss to distribute. Place the colander in sink and let drain for at least a half hour.
    1 cucumber, 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • Mince shallots and garlic and set aside. Chop parsley. Once quinoa cools to room temperature, add veggies, shallots, garlic, and parsley to quinoa. Add red wine vinegar and olive oil, then stir. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir again.
    1 shallot, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to four days.

Notes

  • To make this dish vegan, simply swap out the chicken stock with water or vegetable stock.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 103mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Delicious and easy make ahead tomato quinoa salad recipe. Naturally gluten free and dairy free

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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  1. […] my harvest quinoa salad is one of my favorite side dishes in the fall, and my make ahead tomato quinoa salad is a side dish I make and enjoy all year […]

  2. Kelly says:

    Make ahead dishes are my favorite, especially ones that taste best the next day. #client

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