Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini Recipe

Made from a quirky combination of quinoa, dill, shredded zucchini, and currants - a quinoa salad from Maria Speck's book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.

Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

I know you all love a good quinoa salad. And, my apologies, it has been a while since one was featured here. I've been waiting for just the right one to come my way. And here it is :) It was a quirky mix of green onions, dill, sesame, lemon and currants that caught my attention in this version from Maria Speck's new book. Crumbled feta lends a bit of saltiness to play off the sweetness of the currants, and shredded zucchini brings a moistness that can be missing in some grain-based salads. All around, really tasty.

Summer Quinoa Recipe

This is one of those recipes that comes together in far less time than you'd think. Quinoa cooks up rather quickly, and I prepped the rest of the ingredients while it was simmering away. It's great as a side, or topped with a fried egg - pictured just above. And I'm imagining it being one of those easy-going summer salads that I can prep in advance and not worry about serving hot. I made quinoa patties with the leftovers, and left notes about how to do that in the head notes down below.

I should also note that I made a few tweaks to Maria's original recipe based on personal preference. For example, I scaled back on the currants a bit. But as Maria mentions, this is the sort of salad that is endlessly adaptable based on what you like. Play around with nuts in place of the seeds, and different fresh herbs in place of the dill. But if you can stand it, try it this way at least once, it's a really fresh combination of ingredients that you might not put together otherwise.

And for those of you looking for more ideas, I have a lot of good quinoa recipes, as well as a page where I’ve collected all my favorite zucchini recipes. Enjoy and happy cooking!

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Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

This is great with crumbled feta. But it's also perfect with thinned-out, salted, plain yogurt. Also, for those of you who are fans of quinoa patties - I made patties out of the leftovers by combining a scant 3 cups of leftovers with 4 beaten eggs, and enough breadcrumbs to thicken things up a bit - 1/2 cup or so. Press with hands firmly into patties, then pan-fry, covered.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1/4 cup / 1 oz / 30g dried currants
1 lemon
2 sm-med zucchini, grated on box grater
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

feta cheese, crumbled - as much or as little as you like

To make the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add most of the green onions, a pinch of the salt, and cook until the onions soften, just a couple minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains dry out and toast a bit, roughly another 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, the remaining salt; bring to a boil. Dial back the heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is just cooked through- 15 minutes or so. Be mindful here, you don't want to overcook the quinoa, and have it go to mush.

While the quinoa is cooking zest the lemon, and squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl.

When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, most of the sesame seeds, and most of the dill. Taste and adjust for salt.

Serve, turned out onto a platter, topped with crumbled feta, and the remaining green onions, sesame seeds, and dill.

Serves 6.

Adapted from the Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini in Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, published by Ten Speed Press, 2011.

Prep time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I've never cooked with quinoa before, so I gave this recipe a try for dinner this week. My quinoa came out really mushy -- it all mushed together and wasn't individual grains. I cooked it for about 20 minutes with the lid on. Any suggestions?? It was still quite tasty, but not nearly as pretty as your pics!


@Carolyn, you took the words right out of my mouth about the impacts of quinoa eating. Heidi, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


You need to move to Austin so you can have your own chickens! Wish I could send you some as repayment for all your delicious recipes that have graced our not-so-graceful table.


This looks healthy and delicious!


Carolyn, that was an issue I wasn't aware of. Thanks for drawing it to my attention (and making me thoroughly depressed -- as usual it's the poor aboriginal folk of the world who get shafted so that the rest of the world can profit both monetarily and nutritiously.) Does quinoa need a special kind of climate to grow? Couldn't we in North America grow our own somehow?


I love that you served your salad with a fried egg on top - I would do exactly te same. This dish looks wonderful - healthy, hearty and bright.


The grated zucchini is such a nice idea. I never think of using dill, but it seems to be such a versatile herb, I should really use it more often!

Rachel (Olalliberry)

Perfect!! It's in salad that I prefer quinoa, which I often associate with feta....I keep your version in mind!


Looks light and healthy! Perfect for summer!

Jen @ keepitsimplefoods

heidi, i'm disappointed that you didn't address the impact of the popularization of quinoa in more developed countries on Bolivian culture. it's a really sobering reminder of the social implications of the food-- especially the trendy food. i also noticed the nytimes this week is having a showcase on quinoa recipes, with a little aside that reassures us (us! the western consumer!) that all will be well if we buy fair trade quinoa. fair trade will benefit the farmers' earnings, but commodification of quinoa still raises the price of this food and makes it unaccessible to those who really need the nutritional benefits (not to forget that the food people eat is intrinsic to our cultures). it's troubling, certainly a problem that we can't just eat away.
i had hoped someone would start a conversation about this, especially someone in the natural-food community with a voice i respect like yours. what are your thoughts?
HS: I think the whole issue is really complicated. So I'll just say this - I'd love to see - and support - more domestically produced quinoa. I think there are a small number of growers in Colorado. And here's a farm you can order a couple kinds from in limited quantities. Is this naive? I have no idea. I enjoy cooking and eating quinoa on occasion. It's a great ingredient on all sorts of fronts - quick-cooking, interesting texture, strong nutritionally. And I tend to buy organic, fair-trade quinoa that is tied to various cooperative-related projects and job-producing initiatives. So yeah, not sure I have any real answers. If you stop buying quinoa, does that help or hurt the overall situation? Definitely interested in seeing where this story goes, and how growers, governments, and consumers evolve, respond, etc.


10/10 summer salad. Ill be the belle of the bbq when i bring along this little number


This looks like the perfect summer salad. I love how the zucchini is grated so that it is roughly the same size as the quinoa, making it very easy and tasty to eat!

molly @ mollys menu

This salad looks delicious! I just bought your cookbook Super Natural Everyday, and have loved everything I have tried so far! My husband and I made the white bean and cabbage dish as well as the yogurt biscuits for dinner last night and they were both wonderfully simple and delicious. I do have a question about the biscuits, ours did not fluff up as much as it looked like yours had in the picture. We're pretty sure we followed all the instructions. Any tips?


Delicious! Currants are one of my favorite dried fruits and I don't use them nearly enough. And with zucchini being so plentiful right now, this salad fits right in.


Quinoa salads are endlessly adaptable. They're great for clearing out the fridge or when you don't know what to cook for dinner. Dried cherries and chopped dried apricots are my favorite fruit additions.


Yum, I love quinoa and so does my baby. I have been looking for a good side dish for his birthday party. The main dish is delivered pizzed, but am looking for a healthier addition for adults. How can I adjust this recipe to serve 25 people? If I don't use feta cheese, do I need to add salt to the mix?


I make one very much like this except with cilantro, pineapples, cashews, and green onions. I love the idea of making patties out of the leftovers, I'll have to give that a try.


I'm always looking for new ways to prepare Quinoa - this sounds fabulous!


What a timing, I have just ordered this book from Amazon and I was wondering how come I have not heard anyone mentioning it?!?!?! and here you are with your version of this salad, thank you Heidi, this new book is a great addition for anyone who is interested in whole grains


One thing that I love about quinoa is how it picks up the flavors of the ingredients in the dish. I could see how the earthiness of the dill would really resonate throughout this. Beautiful!

Brian @ A Thought For Food

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