Quinoa Salad with Cucumbers, Chickpeas, and a Yogurt Dill Dressing

April Swiger

Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age.

After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div>

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

Quinoa salad yogurt dill dressing

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This quinoa salad has the unmistakable taste of fresh dill, tangy yogurt, and refreshing lemon and cucumber. Quinoa is gluten-free, packed with nutrients, and fills you up without ill effects when prepared properly. When soaked with a little raw apple cider vinegar, it’s easy to digest, and can be used in countless recipes ranging from breakfast porridges to summer salads.

Cucumbers have been on sale at my little local market the past two weeks and I’ve been itching to add them to a creamy yogurt based salad. As spring has finally sprung, I’m eager to begin making hearty and nourishing salads again for the warmer months. I love the idea of a filling side dish that can easily transfer over to a simple main dish. With the addition of chickpeas to this salad, it can be both!

Quinoa is a grain-like seed (from the same family as beets and spinach) and benefits from a long soak like other grains and legumes to reduce anti nutrients. There is a distinct bitter taste to quinoa which can be reduced significantly through soaking, and a thorough rinse before cooking. I have found that as I plan my meals for the week, adding an alert to my phone to “soak quinoa” the day before I need it has proved to be an easy way to incorporate this traditional practice into my routine.

quinoa salad yogurt dill dressing2

I love the addition of a creamy and tangy dressing to this salad! It’s reminiscent of a Greek tzatziki sauce but with the delicious taste of fresh dill. I used a Russian kefir yogurt for this recipe, but any plain, full-fat yogurt will work just fine. A whisk works great to blend all the ingredients together.

If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, you can easily adapt this recipe with different dressings and vegetables that are available to you. Kimi has shared a fantastic list of nourishing salad dressings that are very simple to make and can be substituted in this recipe. Along with that her cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons, includes more salad dressing recipes and a couple of quinoa salads as well. Her summer quinoa salad is one of my favorites!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Quinoa salad with cucumbers, chickpeas, and a yogurt dill dressing
Recipe type: Side, or main dish
This tangy quinoa salad could serve 8-10 people as a side dish, or 4-6 as a nourishing main dish
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cups warm filtered water for soaking
  • 2 tbls raw apple cider vinegar (you can also use yogurt, kombucha, whey or kefir)
  • 2 cups filtered water for cooking
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled if desired, and cubed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1½-2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 oz can)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 2 tbls fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. The night before you make this dish, plan to soak your quinoa to make it more digestible. Place the quinoa in a non-reactive bowl or jar (preferably glass), and mix it with the warm filtered water and your raw ACV. Allow it to soak for at least 8 hours, and up to 24.
  2. When you're ready to make the salad, drain and rinse your quinoa in a fine sieve, allowing the water to run clear.
  3. Place your rinsed quinoa in a pot with 2 more cups of water and bring it to a boil.
  4. When it's boiling, cover the pot, and turn the heat to low, allowing it to simmer for 12-15 minutes. (These instructions are the same as Kimi's basic quinoa recipe and work for the various brands of quinoa that I've tried).
  5. When the quinoa is done, place it in a bowl to cool. You can leave it on the counter, or put it in the refrigerator.
  6. In the meantime, assemble your dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic cloves, fresh dill and salt and pepper.
  7. When the quinoa has cooled, gently mix in the cucumber, red onion and chickpeas.
  8. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture (you may not need it all), and mix thoroughly.
  9. This salad is best served at room temperature after preparing it, or lightly chilled. Top with additional dill, feta cheese, olives, or tomatoes if desired!


Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette & 7 Other Nourishing Salad Dressings


I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette, plus seven more tasty, nourishing salad dressings

With the sweet and tangy balsamic, the rich extra virgin olive oil, the pungent garlic and mustard, and the subtle creaminess of coconut milk or cream, this dairy-free salad dressing is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy your greens.

I’m the queen of simple salad dressings because I like to keep my cooking uncomplicated. But if you have a little extra coconut milk, cream or unsweetened coconut yogurt, it’s no trouble at all to add a couple tablespoons to your salad dressing – making it a lovely creamy texture with some added health benefits from the coconut milk too. I’m not really sure why it took me so long to think of it!

As part of our 21 steps to a nourishing diet, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a new dressing and point out how simple and better for you homemade salad dressing is! It’s very hard to find store-bought salad dressing that uses nourishing ingredients, and when you do, they often are pretty expensive. Thankfully salad dressings are one of the easiest things you can make, and they are so delicious.

The other day I sat in front of a green salad with vibrant, nutrient rich baby greens, walnuts, avocado and other delicious additions, all tossed with this dressing. I smiled when I thought of all of the lackluster salads I’ve been served at restaurants. This was so much better. You know you are doing something right when you prefer your own food at home.

When making your own salad dressings,  you are trading out cheap oils for traditional ones, artificial flavors and MSG for the real flavors of herbs, spices, and garlic. You are trading highly processed foods, for gently processed, whole foods. It’s a good trade to make. Here is a list of some other lovely, nourishing salad dressings to choose from.

Other Healthy Salad Dressings: 

Sweet Onion Poppyseed Dressing: This salad dressing is amazing with green salads topped with chicken and fruit. It’s sweetened with honey, and so flavorful!

This PDF is a sample of my cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons. It has my recipe for Leon Salad (a favorite from the book) and two salad dressings, including my Simple Balsamic Dressing (that the below is a creamy version of), and my Everyday Salad Dressing using raw apple cider vinegar.

Kombucha VinaigretteLearn how to make kombucha vinegar and then a simple salad dressing out of it.

Orange Balsamic Dressing: This dressing is perfect for this time of year. I pair it with roasted beets, oranges, greens, and nuts for a lovely light lunch.

Spicy Asian Inspired Dressing: I love the dressing that goes along with this Thai Salad. So good!

Strawberry Salad Dressing: I share a video of my TV segment sharing two salad recipes, with links to my yummy strawberry balsamic dressing.

By the way, my affiliate Vitacost is a great place to pick up organic balsamic vinegar and raw apple cider vinegar.

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette & 7 Other Nourishing Salad Dressings
Prep time:
Total time:
This is a simple dressing to throw together and serve with a variety of salads. It will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dijon style mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon unrefined salt
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, peeled, and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (full fat), cream, or unsweetened, homemade coconut yogurt
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together by either whisking in a small bowl, or putting in a 2 cup jar, placing the lid on, and shaking. Shake before each use.


Frugal & Delicious Italian Pasta Salad (plus 10 other pasta and pasta sauce recipes!)

Italian pasta salad

With the heat of summer upon us, our appetites tend toward lighter meals. Our family works together on our 27 acre vineyard  (you can follow our adventures at my blog, Cultured Palate) and with the temperatures reaching into the 100′sF, we are not hungry for a heavy meal. So, salad meals are on the menu!

But, salad meals consisting of primarily lettuce just do not fill up growing teenagers – at least not mine – for very long! I have had to find other cool, refreshing salad meals and they usually include beans and/or pasta. Add to that a homemade salad dressing with good-for-you oil and some homemade bread lathered in real butter and you have a healthy, filling meal!

Feeding a large family can be challenging, especially on a budget.  I normally take a recipe and triple or quadruple it. You probably know how it goes, when you begin to multiply a recipe, many times the spices are just not quite right. Often you can not just multiply the spices, it may be too spicy. Taste testing certainly has its place in my kitchen – a little bit of this and a little bit of that, taste it and repeat!

But, with pasta, it is so easy to just throw more noodles in the pot and adjust the other ingredients accordingly – tasting as I go, of course! Pasta is economical, healthy and filling – that is important with teenage boys! Which makes this recipe (plus the following recipes ideas) perfect for the 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet series.

Here are ten other frugal and nourishing pasta or pasta sauce recipes from The Nourishing Gourmet:

1. Homemade Buckwheat Soba Noodles

2. Soaked Handkerchief Noodles

3. Homemade Soaked Noodles 

4. Fresh Clam and Herb Sauce  

5. Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce 

6. Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce 

7. White Bean and Kale over Pasta with Smokey Bacon

8. Asian Noodle Salad 

9. Pasta with Creme Fraiche and Salmon 

10. Weekend Pasta Feast (with grilled vegetables.

(Kimi notes: The first edition of the Everyday Nourishing Food contains several simple, super nourishing and delicious pasta sauce recipes and for a limited time you can buy it as part of a bundle with my salad cook for a big savings using these coupon codes

In the following recipe, regular pasta or specialty pastas like gluten free, whole grain or even homemade all work well. Kimi did a comparison of 4 grain-free noodles and of the four types reviewed, the zucchini noodles would work for the following recipe if cut into smaller pieces. As you can see in the photo above, I used garden rotini pasta.

For a variation of the Italian Pasta Salad, try adding kidney beans or pinto beans as they taste great!


Read More »

Cold Thai Noodle and Vegetable Salad (gluten, grain, and dairy free)

Crispy vegetables and thin, crunchy kelp noodles, topped with a nutty lime dressing with an Asian flair. This salad works perfectly as a side dish for any meal, no matter the season. Make it a complete meal and serve it with chopped chicken or fish. This twist on a classic Thai noodle salad with peanut dressing gives you a real food, allergen-free dish that is sure to please.

One of my favorite dishes when dining out at Thai restaurants were their noodle salads with the creamy peanut dressing. Since going gluten, grain, and legume free, I have have longed for something to soothe that craving. This salad hits the spot, and dare I say, it’s much tastier than any takeout dish. As with all salads, you can customize the vegetables to fit whatever you have on hand, or what is in season. I make this salad year round and pair it with chicken, fish, and even beef. The kelp noodles are a wonderful pasta substitute for those avoiding grains and their neutral taste allows them to soak up whatever flavoring they are surrounded by. Kimi recently did a review of grain-free noodles and I was excited to see kelp noodles included in her post! I love them!

My original recipe for this salad called for thin strips of red bell pepper for the salad, and a dash of cayenne pepper in the dressing. Since going nightshade free, I have had to leave those two ingredients out, but if you can tolerate nightshades, feel free to add them back in. I’ll list them in the ingredient list as optional items. Lemon juice will work in a pinch, but there is something about the fresh lime juice that really makes this salad pop. If you love cilantro as much as I do, you may find that doubling or tripling the cilantro makes the salad even better. But, I’ll leave that up to you, since not everyone is the cilantro fanatic that I am!

Cold Thai Noodle and Vegetable Salad (gluten, grain, and dairy free)
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4
This crispy, crunchy Thai noodle salad makes the perfect side dish to any meal, no matter the season. Mix it up a bit and use whatever vegetables you have in season!
  • Salad
  • 1 package of kelp noodles (12 ounces)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Dressing
  • ¼ cup sunbutter
  • ⅛ cup coconut aminos
  • ⅛ cup lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger (dried)
  • 2-3 tbsp. coconut milk
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all of the dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. Rinse your kelp noodles and let them drain in a colander to get rid of excess water.
  3. Prepare all of your veggies and place in a large bowl.
  4. Once the noodles have finished draining, place them in the bowl with the sliced veggies.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until everything is coated with the dressing.
  6. Let the salad chill in the fridge for an hour or two before serving to give the flavors time to develop. This salad also holds up well, so you could make it in advance if needed.
  7. Serve as a side, or make it a complete meal and serve with a protein of your choice. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lime juice if desired.

Hi! My name is Jessica and I am a real food nut, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. I have had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where I am the happiest and most comfortable. I began helping my mother cook and bake around the age of three and I’ve been in the kitchen ever since. I ended up working in a restaurant in my hometown for almost a decade, working in every position there and finally becoming the lead chef. My main mission in life is to provide real food recipes that are simple, yet delicious, as well as show how eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. I love to show people how making even small changes in their diet and food selections can make a huge difference in their lives. Along the way, I’ll share stories of my own real food and health journeys, as well as ideas for how to live a healthier, more natural life. I’d love it if you’d stop by and visit me at my blog, Delicious Obsessions.