Recipes Side Dishes Vegetables Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado and Pistachios

Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado and Pistachios

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Cookbook author Deborah Madison couldn’t resist pairing a big bunch of quinoa greens with quinoa itself for this salad. But because quinoa greens are rarely seen, another green in the same family—beet, chard, quelite, amaranth, spinach—can be used in their stead. They taste very similar to one another.

Regular beige quinoa can certainly be used here, but it tends to look rather drab, so you might consider using black quinoa, or the red if you want extra drama. The instructions below are for cooking black quinoa, which requires about 15 minutes more cooking time than beige quinoa. Red quinoa takes a little longer than the beige but not as long as the black; you just have to taste it as you go.


For the quinoa:

  • 1 cup black quinoa
  • Scant 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 8 oz. or more greens, such as quinoa, beet greens, quelites or
      chard, cooked, drained and finely chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, slivered
  • A heaping 1 Tbs. finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • Crumbled feta, ricotta salata or smoked ricotta for serving
  • Pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped, for serving


To prepare the quinoa, rinse the quinoa in cold water. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the quinoa and salt, then cover until most, if not all, of the water has been absorbed and the germ of the seed shows, about 30 minutes, adding more water if needed. There will be a little texture even when the quinoa is fully cooked. Drain off any excess water before using the quinoa. You should have about 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa.

In a bowl, toss the cooked quinoa with the finely chopped cooked greens, using your fingers to distribute the greens.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and a pinch of salt. Pour it over the quinoa and greens, add the mint and chives and toss to coat. Taste for salt.

Spoon the quinoa mixture onto a platter. Cover the surface with the avocado, cheese and pistachios and serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 2013).