Sadly many salads spend their time as side dishes, maybe making appetizer status at best. This, however, is quinoa salad that is more than just a side dish and too good to be the opening act to another dish’s top billing.

Why is it so good? Well, the quinoa adds protein and some heft and the fresh oregano makes a good change to the usual tomato/ basil summer combination.  Also there’s a handy hint in the recipe that really helps to concentrate the tomato flavor (keep reading to find out).

With the key ingredients in season it really tastes of summer. Just make sure you store your tomatoes at room temperature as the fridge really kills their flavor.

Despite my best efforts in the garden, I have not been blessed with a green thumb, but this summer the weather gods have been favorable—more than favorable—and I’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes in my garden.

Jersey Fresh Salad made by my kindergartners
Salad made by kindergartners

My girls love picking them and making their own Jersey Fresh salad—chopped tomatoes, some fresh basil and chives drizzled with a little olive oil—perfection in its simplicity.

The tomato, oregano and quinoa salad is also easy, but here is the recipe as there are a few steps.

Jersey Fresh Tomato, Oregano and Quinoa Salad Recipe
serves 4 as a side or 2 as an entree (go big!)


For the salad

  • 1 cup of red quinoa (there is no nutritional difference but the red quinoa has a nuttier flavor that I prefer)
  • 2lb of tomatoes
  • A handful of fresh oregano, oregano flowers if you have them as they have a delicious flavor

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup of sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil

First of all rinse the quinoa. Then put the quinoa and 2 cups of cold water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Then turn off the heat and let the pan sit for about 10 more minutes with the lid on. Then fluff up with a fork and let the quinoa cool.

Here’s the handy hint that mentioned: Chop the tomatoes into bite size chunks.  Put into a colander and sprinkle with sea salt.  Give them a toss and season again and give a few more tosses. The salt won’t be drawn into the tomatoes, instead it will draw any excess moisture out, making the tomato flavor more concentrated. Leave the tomatoes in the colander on top of a bowl to stand for around 15 minutes, then discard the juice that has come out of them.

Make the dressing by whisking the vinegar with the mustard. Then add the oil gradually. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the quinoa, tomatoes and oregano together then coat the salad with the dressing. Savor the flavor of  a Jersey Fresh summer.