Three Seed Quinoa Salad

October 1, 2007 at 8:14 am (A (4 stars, love, favorite), Derek's faves, Grains, Peter Berley, Salads, Summer recipes, Yearly menu plan)

We love this recipe from Peter Berley’s cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. It has a great nutty yet fresh flavor, and it’s so colorful it makes a lovely salad for a potluck or a picnic. The prep work is substantial, but it makes a lot of food. We try to make it at least once or twice every summer. We would make it more often but it just takes too long.

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1/3 cup hulled sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup arame (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • kernels from 2 ears sweet corn (about 1 1/3 cups I think)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch red radishes (8 to 10), trimmed and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot, grated

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (about 1 cup), trimmed, leaves and tender stems chopped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (Berley calls for 2 tsp. coarse sea salt)
  • black pepper


  1. Seeds: Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Pour them into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Arame (optional):  Combine the arame with 2 cups warm water and set aside to swell for 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside.
  3. Quinoa: In a small saucepan bring the quinoa, 1.5 cups water, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Spread the quinoa on a baking sheet to cool.
  4. Corn and onions: In a pot fitted with a steamer, combine the corn kernels with the red onion. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove to a colander and chill under cold running water. Drain thoroughly.
  5. Marinade: To make the marinade, in a large mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, cilantro, scallions, jalepeno, garlic, 2 tsp. salt, and black paper to taste. Whisk well.
  6. Raw veggies: Julienne the radishes, chop the bell pepper, and grate the carrot. Add everything (the toasted seeds, quinoa, steamed vegetables, red pepper, radishes, carrot, and arame) to the marinade. Mix well and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marry the flavors.

According to Berley this yields 4 to 6 servings.  Maybe it’s 6 servings if you eat it as a main-dish salad, but normally I serve it as a side or as part of a multi-component meal, and it makes way more than 4 to 6 servings.  I think it makes 8 to 12 side servings.

Simplifying the recipe / What can you omit?

Corn: One year I bought corn but then accidentally left it at the farmer’s market. So I tasted this with all the ingredients except the corn.  It still tasted good but was clearly missing the sweetness of the corn, some juiciness, the textural contrast, and the cheery yellow color.  I made an extra trip back to the market just to get the corn.  That’s how essential it is. I think I’ve used frozen corn before, and it was okay?

The seeds really make this dish–don’t leave them out. The cilantro and jalapeno are also essential. I’ve tried it with everything but the radishes and it was okay but I when I added the radishes it just tasted better. I haven’t tried omitting the carrot or bell pepper.

I like the arame in the salad (both the black color and the flavor), but the difference is subtle. You can certainly leave it out.

I once was out of scallions and made this with chives instead.  I missed the scallions. It needed a little more sharpness / heat.

Other notes:

Do not let the quinoa sit covered in the pot after it’s done cooking, or it will become mushy. I don’t think you actually have to spread it on a cookie sheet, but adding it to a big bowl and tossing it to let the steam out is a good idea so it stays al dente.  I’d also like to try cooking it for only 12 minutes and then letting it cool in the covered pan.

This salad is just a tad oily.  I’ve tried cutting the olive oil to only 1/4 cup, but the salad still seemed a little oily, and it also seemed slightly too vinegary.  Derek liked it fine, but I thought the oil/vinegar balance was off a bit.  If I cut the oil again I’ll cut the vinegar as well.

Once I was a tad short on apple cider vinegar, so I used a bit of sherry vinegar.  Strangely, at first the salad tasted quite a bit more acidic than it normally does, but by the next day I couldn’t tell the difference.  The salad seemed (as usual) a bit oily.

Rating: B+
Derek: A-

Update July 2012:  This recipe took me about an hour to make, with some cleanup as I went.  Chopping all those veggies takes me quite a while!

1/8 recipe (~250g) has 323 calories, 10.5% protein, 48% fat, 41.5% carbs.


  1. austingardener said,

    Have you calculated the calories per serving for this one? With the seeds it may be high?

  2. Vegetarian Passover 2009 « From the kitchen of a captious vegetarian said,

    […] Side dishes:  beets in a sesame orange dressing and three-seed quinoa salad […]

  3. Dan said,

    Thanks for the recipe! Frank had a BBQ for his students today, and I made something along these lines; people seemed to like it (or at least they ate it up!). I made the salad with arborio rice instead of quinoa, both because I was intrigued by the recipe on the front page, and because I haven’t quite recovered from having sprouted quinoa last week =)

    • captious said,

      Glad it came out well, even without the quinoa. What was so traumatic about the sprouted quinoa?

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