Basil Cucumber Quinoa Salad

By Amanda Paa – Updated June 27, 2022
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Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}

About these Quinoa Salad Picnic Jars:

They’re fresh, light, and the perfect thing to pack alongside a bottle of white wine for your next picnic. Or a “not-sad” desk lunch. As well as a solution for dinnertime that falls between watching one child’s soccer game and the others tee ball practice.

Cucumber ribbons and whole basil leaves.
Earthy pearls of fluffy quinoa. (Or you could use bulgur wheat.)
Sweet, dried Montmorency tart cherries, that help reduce inflammation + heart health benefits.
Creamy goat cheese.

Admittedly, an unexpected toss up of ingredients that over delivered. Melded together with a simple lemon vinaigrette, it’s the kind of thing we eat on the regular in summer. Anything that saves me from turning on the oven is a win! Better yet, the jars lasts for several days in the refrigerator. If you’re serving a crowd, you can leave it as one big bowl salad too.

Best way to cook quinoa:

I finally learned the secret to making quinoa for salads, so that the individual grains are separate instead of sticking together and being quite mushy. It’s all in the ratio, and not listening to the back of the package! Which always tells you 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa.

Don’t do it. Instead, 1 1/4 cup water to 1 cup quinoa makes fluffy, light grains that are exactly what you want for a salad.

Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}
Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}
Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}

Six Little Things About Me:

Maybe it’s your first reading this blog, or maybe you’ve been with me for the last six years. Yes, this little blog turned SIX at the beginning of July, a venture I had no idea would turn into the thing that provides my living, but more so, fills me with passion and happiness every single day.

I love this space beyond the food and recipes because it has become my journal. Sharing the ebbs and flows of life, glimpses of the world we live in, and photos that will jog my memory and emotions as I grow older.

As I was looking through the archives recently, I realized I’ve shared some very big thoughts and happenings with you, like my decision to be childless, anxiety, health struggles, friendships, being the adult child of divorce, and career change. Yet some of the average every day things, which make us who we are, well, I’ve left those out. The quirky characteristics are what set us apart, and paint our picture, going beyond surface level. So! I’m sharing six of them with you today, in celebration of six years of Heartbeet Kitchen. Here goes….

  1. I never wear matching socks. Ever. Eight years ago I was working on unraveling my perfectionist stronghold, and challenged myself with this activity. It was difficult at first, driving me half crazy most of the day. But then it felt great. And so freeing! So I kept up with it, and have no plans to change.
  2. I eat chocolate and peanut butter every single day. They are the two easiest, fastest things that cure my sweet tooth, make my day better, or save me from hangry.
  3. I am that person who always tests their car’s empty fuel gauge. It drives Brian crazy. But I have never run out of gas! And similarly, I’m notorious for my phone’s battery to be at 1%.
  4. I drive a Mini Cooper, that I had no intention of buying. However, I turned the corner one day and there she was sitting in the car dealership lot, the same color as my KitchenAid stand mixer – pistachio. Three hours later I walked out with the keys.
  5. Almost every day, I start my day with a walk around our St. Paul neighborhood. I love looking at all the old houses, listening to the squawks of morning, and letting my mind wonder. I love to take a photo/video along the way and document via my instagram story.
  6. I listen to country music. A lot. Currently obsessed with Florida Georgia Line and this song by LANCO. In the same token, you’ll find old school rap like Salt-N-Pepa and Jay-Z right next to the twang on my current playlist.


Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad Jars {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}
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Basil Cucumber Quinoa Picnic Salad {with a light, lemony dressing, dried cherries, and goat cheese}

Basil Cucumber Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is summery and fresh!  
No ratings yet
Prep Time :20 minutes
Cook Time :20 minutes
Total Time :40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/2 cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 persian cucumbers thinly sliced with mandoline, vertically (these are the little ones you get at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard


  • Rinse quinoa well in a colander with cold water. Add to medium pot, cover with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  • To a large bowl, add cherries, red onion, basil, goat cheese, cucumbers. Pour quinoa on top.
  • Whisk together or blend olive oil, agave nectar, lemon juice, garlic, dijon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour over salad ingredients and fold to combine. Taste, and add salt if needed. Divide into jars and keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Did you make this?

tag @heartbeetkitchen on instagram and hashtag it #heartbeetkitchen

August 10, 2017


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  1. Claudia | The Brick Kitchen

    Happy 6th blog birthday!!! Your blog is such a stunner and I love reading your posts – just finished your post about the decision not to have children and I so appreciate how freely you share your perspective and thoughts. AND this salad looks like the perfect not -sad university lunch too – love the goats cheese addition, and it seems like the kind of salad you could add all manner of left-over fridge vegetables to <3

  2. Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    Aaaahhh happy blogiversary!! I’m so glad we’ve been able to get to know each other through our online spaces. Also – totally trying your quinoa trick soon. I HATE cooking quinoa these days because it always turns out too mushy for my tastes. Thanks for being you!! xoxo

    • amandapaa

      Thank you Sara! I’m so glad it’s the reason we connected too. And no more mushy quinoa! xo

  3. Kelly

    Oh no, not country music ( don’t think we can be friends) — I’m teasing!

    The combination of ingredients in this salad is wonderful – fresh, aromatic and so beautiful too! I can really taste this one (and I have to agree, a crisp chardonnay would make a lovely weekend accompaniment :)

    • amandapaa

      hah! i know, i know. country girl at heart. :) and yes to a crisp chardonnay paired with this! now when can we picnic together? xo

  4. Ruby

    Happy 6th blogaversary! It was so lovely catching up with you this summer- and fun to find out even more little facts about you here :) Your car is my absolute dream vehicle. Also this salad looks gorgeous! Once I buy a new basil plant I am going to try to recreate it over here in Morocco xoxo

    • amandapaa

      Thank you Ruby! It was so great to see you when you were in Minnesota. Now it’s my turn to come and visit you. :) xo

  5. Alison

    Love the flavor combos in this bowl! And I want to take a ride in your car, KTHX. Xoxo

    • amandapaa

      we could cruise with the top down! ;)

  6. Liz S.

    Yay, happy blog anniversary!

    • amandapaa

      thank you Liz!