Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

If you thought mixing pasta with salad was a culinary triumph, wait till you taste the intriguing blend of Italian classics with a superfood spin – the Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa. This fusion sends your taste buds on a journey through the rustic Italian countryside, spiced up with the unique, nutty flavor of quinoa.

Actually, if you are looking for something for Father’s Day, then your daddy is just going to love this recipe. It’s vesatility is just so ideal for your old man that it will always create some good and lasting memories.

The good thing is that it is easy to prepare and in no time, the table can be set for some thorough go-down!

What Makes This Salad So Special?

The star attraction of this Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa is the fusion of homely pasta with the protein-packed superfood quinoa; a mix that is irresistible and nutritious.

  • Its unique blend of traditional pasta and superfood quinoa adds not just to the flavor but also the nutritional value.
  • The simplicity of the dish is another highlight, with it being quick to prepare yet incredibly meeting the expectations.

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

The secret is anchored in the mix of ingredients. Here is a sneak-peak;

  • Choose a quality quinoa that lends a slightly nutty flavor, binding well with your preferred pasta.
  • Fresh, ripe tomatoes add a splash of acidity and sweetness.
  • Chopped bell peppers grant a little crunch and a dash of vibrance.
  • Toss in black olives for a salty, briny accent.
  • Basil and oregano infuse the salad with traditional Italian herb undertones.
  • Capers work a charm, offering a hint of tanginess.

Choosing the Right Pasta and Quinoa

Unlocking the secret to the ultimate Italian pasta salad with quinoa begins with the choice of pasta and quinoa. There is no strict rule; however, considering the texture and taste is important.

  • On choosing the right quinoa, go for the red variety.
  • When it comes to pasta, short, hollow shapes like penne or rotini are suitable, as they hold up well in salads and capture the dressing inside.
  • Experimenting with different pasta varieties like whole wheat or gluten-free is also possible. It’s all about what suits your dietary needs.

The best Italian Quinoa Pasta Salad recipe served in a dish

Fresh Ingredients for Maximum Flavor

Think ripe tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, and fresh herbs, they all contribute to that peak tasty endgame. Try some peppery arugula or heart-healthy olives for added flair.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Cooking Pasta and Quinoa to Perfection

Get the pasta and quinoa cooking side by side, a perfect harmony in your kitchen, ensuring the ideal proportion of both. The trick to mastering this Italian pasta salad with quinoa is having the pasta al dente and quinoa fluffy.

Adorn your gauge and keep the temperature in check to ensure the perfect quinoa. A temperature of 190-200°F gets that faultless texture.

The pasta, quintessential to any Italian dish, should be cooked “al dente”. This means the pasta must be tender, yet firm when bitten. It’s essential for maintaining the pasta’s integrity in your salad.

Timings are pivotal. Quinoa is cooked when it’s tender, and a little tail pops out. Typically, it’s about 15 minutes. Pasta, on the other hand, may take 10-12 minutes, depending on the type.

To confirm texture, do the taste test. The quinoa should be fluffy like a cloud, and the pasta should be firm but not tasting raw or doughy.

Chopping and Prepping Fresh Vegetables

The trick to getting those perfect, juicy chunks of veggies in your Italian pasta salad with quinoa? It’s all in the details. Keep your slices even and crisp.

Don’t let your Italian pasta salad with quinoa turn into an assortment of minced or bruised veggies. Patience and proper knife skills pay off in spades here. Calmly slice or dice, resisting the urge to rush.

Believe it or not, your method of veggie prep can directly affect the overall freshness of your Italian pasta salad with quinoa.

Choose to rough chop for a more rustic vibe, or finely dice for a cleaner taste and texture. Remember, the size of your chop can dictate the salad’s texture!

Combining All the Elements: Building Your Salad

Once your pasta and quinoa are cooled, it’s time to marry them with your chopped veggies. The key to a remarkable Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa is layering flavors.

Begin with a base of pasta and quinoa. This allows each ingredient to retain full individuality while still contributing to the overall taste.

Next, add in those vibrant, crunchy vegetables. The colors alone are enough to tempt the most hesitant of salad eaters. Ensure they are evenly distributed to even out the taste and texture.

Now, drizzle the homemade dressing over this mixture.

Gently mix, ensuring every pasta coil and quinoa grain is lovingly enveloped in dressing. This integration is essential to soak up every note of flavor in our Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa.

Finally, for the pièce de résistance, generously sprinkle grated Parmesan over the top.

Adding Protein: Options for Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian Eaters

Opting for Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa, you’re not just embracing flavors but also a pack of proteins. Adding protein to this recipe is a cinch, from legumes like chickpeas to adding a boiled egg, you can greatly increase its protein content.

Although tofu is a popular choice, it’s not the only protein-packed option available. Quinoa itself is a complete protein, and coupling it with edamame or perhaps Greek yogurt (if you’re into dairy), you’re in for a protein-rich ride.

Thinking outside the box? How about halloumi? Add some pan-grilled halloumi cubes to the salad, a delightful addition with its salty flavor.

Not a fan of the usual suspects? Spinach is a dark horse in the protein world. Adding a handful of fresh spinach not only adds a nutritious protein punch but also an exciting color contrast to your Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa.

Seasonings and Herbs for Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Try adding the likes of oregano, basil or thyme to impart a truly Italian flavor.

Different herbs can add unique notes to your pasta salad. Like Basil, it’s fresh and slightly peppery, perfect for adding a bit of ‘zing’. Oregano, on the other hand, provides a bolder, earthy flavor.

Italian pasta with Apple Quinoa Salad + Tahini Maple Dressing

There’s more to Italian seasonings than just herbs. Garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika can also transform your pasta salad. A small pinch would not overpower the overall taste, but rather enhance the flavors of your key ingredients – pasta and quinoa.

Finely diced onions, minced garlic, or grated parmesan can also add depth. So do your experiments and see what works!

Making It Vegan: Dairy-free and plant-based Alternatives

You should try drizzling this recipe in a creamy cashew or almond-based dressing. The result is just smoking hoooot!

Who says salads need cheese? This recipe can really work well with nutritional yeast-based ‘Parmesan’. Add sun-dried tomatoes or olives and boom, something special!

Vegan doesn’t mean boring. Caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, or marinated artichokes? You can amplify your Italian pasta salad with quinoa by adding these plant-based elements.

Storing and Serving: Tips Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

When it comes to storing your freshly prepared Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa, a little strategy goes a long way. Adding the dressing just before serving keeps it fresh.

For leftovers, store them in an airtight container – they can be reinvented as a tasty, convenient lunch the next day.

If you’re into meal prep, doubling this Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa recipe is ideal. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Simply separate individual portions into containers, saving precious time during the busy week.

Proper Storage for Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Fridge or freezer, that’s the question, right? Choose the refrigerator for this dish. Stashing it in the freezer can alter the texture and potentially spoil the freshness.

Did you know high-quality airtight containers are a real game-changer for storing salads? They help retain the salad’s texture and flavor.

Avoid storing your Italian pasta salad with quinoa near strong odors within the fridge. It can absorb unpleasant scent which in turn affects its taste.

Something else to consider when storing your Italian pasta salad with quinoa, is to keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat. This prevents the quinoa and pasta from getting too soggy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Can I make this salad gluten-free?

Yes, you can easily make this salad gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta instead of rotini. Make sure to check the packaging for gluten-free certification.

Can I add other herbs to the salad?

Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different herbs to suit your taste. Some popular options include oregano, thyme, or even mint.

Can I substitute quinoa with another grain?

Certainly! If you’re not a fan of quinoa, you can substitute it with other grains like couscous, farro, or even brown rice.

Can I make this salad vegan?

Yes, you can easily make this salad vegan by omitting the Parmesan cheese or using a vegan alternative. You can also add vegan-friendly protein options like edamame or tempeh.

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! This salad is perfect for meal prepping as it can be made ahead of time. Just make sure to store it in the refrigerator and give it a good toss before serving to redistribute the flavors.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa recipe

Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Chef Amelia
Craving a flavor bombshell dish? Get ready for an Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa, a treat that's both bursting with rustic goodness and superfood wowsome!
3.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 736 kcal


  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of rotini pasta
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup of cucumber diced
  • ½ cup of black olives sliced
  • ¼ cup of red onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cooking the Quinoa: Start by rinsing the quinoa under cold water to remove any bitterness. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.
    Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, and cover the saucepan. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  • Preparing the Pasta: While the quinoa is cooling, cook the rotini pasta (or whichever pasta you chooose) according to the package instructions.
    Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water to cool it down. Set aside.
  • Assembling the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and pasta. Add the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, red onion, fresh basil, and fresh parsley.
    Toss everything together until well mixed. If desired, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top for added flavor.
  • Variations and Additions: Feel free to get creative and add your own twist to this Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa. You can incorporate different vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, or artichoke hearts.
    For extra protein, consider adding chickpeas or grilled tofu. The possibilities are endless!
  • Tips for Serving and Storing: This Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa is best enjoyed chilled. Allow the flavors to meld together by refrigerating it for at least an hour before serving.
Keyword Italian Pasta Salad with Quinoa, pasta recipes, Quinoa salad
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Chef Amelia
Chef Amelia

Amelia is a passionate chef who finds joy in trying out different cuisines and dishes and sharing her expertise with the world. She enjoys cooking and curating recipes so much!

Articles: 26


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