Recipe: Summer Vegetable Grain Salad

updated Jan 29, 2020
Summer Vegetable Grain Salad

A light, wholesome quinoa salad filled with summer vegetables and tossed in a pesto vinaigrette.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

A grain salad is the perfect make-ahead lunch no matter the time of year, but this one — full of protein-rich quinoa and in-season summer veggies — is especially tasty for these last few weeks of summer. It’s light enough to eat even on the hottest August days, and yet it still fills you up. The best part? It’s tossed in a ridiculously fast dressing that starts with a jar of your favorite pesto.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

A 2-Ingredient Dressing for Summer’s Best Grain Salad

This is the kind of dish you can prep on Sunday and enjoy for lunch throughout the week. Or, enjoy it as a side salad for whatever you throw on the grill. What sets it apart from your average quinoa salad is the fuss-free dressing, which is simply a mix of pesto and red wine vinegar.

Since the pesto coats every bit of the salad, reach for your favorite one here. If you have the time to make it yourself, that’s even better, but since this is a recipe based on ease and convenience, it’s totally fine to grab a jar from the store.

Summer Vegetable Grain Salad

A light, wholesome quinoa salad filled with summer vegetables and tossed in a pesto vinaigrette.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the salad:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    quinoa, rinsed well

  • 2 3/4 cups


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 pint

    cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved

  • 1

    large English cucumber, chopped

  • 2

    small bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup

    store-bought or homemade basil pesto

  • 1 tablespoon

    red wine vinegar


Cook the quinoa:

  1. Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and refrigerate until cooled completely, 10 to 15 minutes.

Make the dressing:

  1. Place the pesto and vinegar in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Assemble the salad:

  1. Add the cooled quinoa, cucumber, peppers, and tomatoes to the dressing and toss to combine and evenly coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)