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Black Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Feta, Tomatoes, and Sunflower Sprouts

August 15, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Health , Vegetables | Post comment

Black Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Feta, Tomatoes, and Sunflower Sprouts

Here is a dramatic looking summer salad that’s got plenty of health supporting ingredients, starting with the light, high protein seeds (not a true grain) of quinoa, avocadoes, nuts, and sprouts. You can add to this collection by including pickled onions, a variety of tomatoes or just one kind, and steamed green beans, slivered bell peppers, cucumbers. In other words, the black quinoa makes a great canvas for improvising with all the summer foods now available. Come fall, include pomegranate seeds as well.

Black quinoa is a little heartier than the white and takes about 20 minutes to cook rather than the usual fifteen. You can certainly use the white (actually beige) as well if you prefer. Dress it while it’s warm, then lay it on a platter and garnish with the vegetables.  If feta cheese is too salty for your taste, use ricotta salata instead. It’s similarly dry and crumbly.  Substitute half the olive oil with walnut oil and include roasted, chopped walnuts in the salad instead of pistachios for an alternative.


1 cup black quinoa, rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon plus fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin seed, or more to taste
Finely sliced chives or scallions, about 2 tablespoons
Chopped fresh oregano or mint, about 2 teaspoons
1 firm but ripe avocado, halved and sliced
Crumbled feta cheese
10 Sun Gold tomatoes, halved (or other ripe cherry tomato varieties)
1 ripe red tomato, sliced
Pistachio nuts or walnuts
Handful sunflower sprouts


Start the quinoa. Bring 2 ½ cups water to a boil, add the quinoa and ¼ teaspoon salt, and simmer until the white germ is visible, about 20 minutes. Even when done, the grains are slightly crunchy. Drain off any excess water.
Whisk the lemon zest and 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt and cumin.  Pour it over the hot quinoa and toss with the scallions or chives.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Tip the quinoa onto a platter then cover the surface with the avocado slices, tomatoes, and crumbles of cheese. Scatter the pistachios on top, pepper well, and serve.

Serves 4 or more

And another idea
This salad can easily accept cooked greens such as chard, beet greens and spinach (I’ve even used quinoa greens). Steam 8 ounces or more leaves until tender, finely chop them and toss them with the quinoa before adding the other ingredients.  They almost disappear into the quinoa but fleck it with green.