Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts Recipe

I am just a few days — three, to be terrifyingly exact — away from delivering the manuscript for my second book*, and although it is nowhere near as stressful a time as it was for my first (why do I sound like a young mother all of a sudden?), it is still a time of waking up bright and early and working intently through the day, with a few necessary breaks to shower, lunch, and take a few steps around the room when my foot has fallen asleep. (Not that I need it to help me write, but I wish it were more supportive.)

I have little time to cook, but I still have to eat, otherwise I die and my publisher is not happy, so my strategy is to prepare big bowls of salads that will make a few meals. I still have deep and sincere feelings for the grated carrot salad with avocado that got me through my last hang-in-there episode last spring, but this quinoa salad is the new teacher’s pet.

It uses quinoa, generally considered to be the nutritional superhero of grains, but it doesn’t use any old kind of quinoa, no: it uses red quinoa, which is enough to make the most blasé of your health nut friends go, “Oooh, fun!”

I might add here that red quinoa is not so much red as it is reddish brown, or mahogany. (I’ll admit that the first color comparison that presented itself beneath my fingertips was “dried blood”, but I am told that it is not a food-friendly image.) I spotted it at the organic store right by the regular quinoa, and thought, “Oooh, fun!” so I bought a package.

Because of color considerations, and because quinoa, red or otherwise, has a thinly crunchy personality, I chose to complement it with the moist plumpness of roasted red bell peppers, which we all know are very easy to make (see below).

A little more protein was needed to make this a meal-in-a-bowl type of salad, so I added cubes of smoked tofu (the Tossolia brand; I am addicted to this stuff, and I live in the fear that they will discontinue it or change the recipe, like they did with my sesame seitan burgers). But then the textural balance was leaning too heavily on the soft/tender side, so I threw in some toasted pine nuts to crunch it back up.

And the result, I’m happy to say, is just plain good, flavorful and satisfying, which is a lot more than I can say about the zucchini flans I attempted to make yesterday night, to disastrous results. (We fled and went out to eat.)

* Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris is a book on Paris restaurants and food shops, with recipes. It was published in the US by Broadway Books in April 2008.

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Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves 3 to 4.

Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts Recipe


  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
  • 190 grams (1 cup) red quinoa, well rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  • 3 rounded tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (update: it is even better with pistachios!)
  • A dash olive oil
  • A dash honey vinegar
  • A dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used alderwood smoked salt)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) extra-firm smoked tofu, diced (I buy the Tossolia brand at organic stores; you could substitute diced mozzarella or good-quality canned tuna if not making it for a vegan/vegetarian crowd)


  1. Bring the stock to a simmer, add the quinoa, and cook for 15 minutes, or according to package instructions. Drain and let cool. (Note: I've read that quinoa can be cooked in the rice cooker, but I have yet to try that method.)
  2. Cut the flesh of the bell peppers into short strips.
  3. In a medium salad bowl, combine the quinoa with the peppers, pine nuts, olive oil, vinegar, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, and toss to combine.
  4. Fold in the tofu and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for a day or two.

This post was first published in July 2007 and updated in July 2016.

  • Joan

    it looks like a bowl of jewels! Clotilde many many congratulations on the SECOND book…my oh marvelous my.

    ‘n smoked salt! whoopee…

  • this salad seems to be really delicious !!

  • This salad looks lovely and I really can’t wait to see the book. Et le plat en form de coeur avec les deux fourchettes – c’est trop chou. Hang in there Clotilde!

  • Rachel

    Well, that’s definitely going in my lunch lineup, with your pan bagnat…

    May I ask if there are any plans to publish your second book in the UK too? I hope so! Et bon courage pour la fin!

  • Je suis sûre que tu vas adorer : maintenant, on trouve aussi du quinoa noir, dit quinoa sauvage ! Marié avec le blond et le rouge, c’est un superbe mariage…

  • Oooh, fun! allergy-friendly salads, c’est super! Je ne connais pas la marque Tossolia, mais je vais chercher, je suppose que ça se trouve chez Naturalia?

  • That looks lovely! I thought the tofu was fresh mozzarella from the picture, so now I want to try it both ways.

  • Rachel – The UK rights have not been sold yet, but I’m hoping they will find a taker!

    Clea – Black quinoa? I have to try that, thanks for the tip!

    Hilda – Yes, the smoked tofu is available at Naturalia, in the fresh foods section by the tofu burgers, etc.

    Sinda – Mozzarella is a great substitution suggestion; I’ve updated the recipe to mention it.

  • Clotilde, what a stunning looking salad! Joan said it: just like a little bowl of jewels. And the smoked salt is genious.

    I’m so happy you’ve got another book coming out right away! I can’t tell you how much we enjoy the first one.

  • Erin

    Sounds like it’s right up my alley. I think that will be a course in my fourth of July lunch.

    Wonderful about the second book. I can’t wait!

  • Pretty and good for you? What a combo.

  • Claudia

    Thank you, Clotilde! I am from Peru so I’ve been looking for quinoa recipes to make for my kids so they can have a taste of mom’s homeland.

  • chrissie

    Sounds delicious! Love quinoa (and tofu for that matter) but never tried the red one. Must get to Naturalia. How about crumbled feta or grilled haloumi cheese as a substitute for the tofu/mozzarella?? Both would be a perfect contrast with the sweetness of the red peppers.

  • Hmm. tofu. good choice. Usually it’s so bland but with the quinoa and peppers it’s probably delicious.

  • Very, very pretty! I definitely agree about doing the peppers in the oven – it’s just so much easier than fiddling about with the grill! I’m glad you mentioned that you freeze them – I keep meaning to try this but wasn’t sure if it would work or not :-)

  • Red quinoa! I just discovered quinoa this year and now…RED!
    It’s gorgeous, but I have no idea where I’ll find it out here in the Vendee…I was impressed that I could find the plain, old tan..
    Congrats on the 2nd book!

  • The second book sounds terrific. I’m certainly enjoying the first,

  • Jayne in Seattle

    Amazon just today delivered Chocolate and Zucchini. Who would have believed such a delicious and beautiful book would be in soft cover. The sardine sandwich took me back to a lunch I had in Paris in May 1979. The recipes look scrumptious but the personal tone of the book is, as one of my friends would say, “Tres charmant.” I feel like I have received a gift in finding this wonderful website.

  • Hang in there!

    Salads are my go-to meal, too–especially during the summer when it’s too hot to turn on the oven or stove for very long.

  • Tea

    How funny, I’ve been getting excited about red quinoa salads as well (see here). So good, especially in the warmer weather.

    For those looking to buy red quinoa, it’s sold on Amazon (at least in the US). The small sized box doesn’t seem to be currently available, but you can purchase it in bulk.

  • This recipe sounds awesome, just perfect for munching throughout the day.

    Also thanks to Tea for letting us know where to purchase red quinoa, I know I haven’t seen it in my part of the world.

  • May

    I love quinoa and love to try out different recipes. Looking forward to trying this one!
    and book two is just the type of book I like, looking forward to that too!

  • franko

    a NEW book??


    your present book is one of my current faves, and this recipe looks fantastic.

  • I know, you’ll say that it’s OT and that you had dealt with it 2 years ago, but will we have another Clotilde’s personal recipe of RATATOUILLE? :-D It’s fashionable nowadays!

  • blake | SF

    What wonderful news! I imagine you must be in the home stretch now, Clotilde… by way of encouragement, let me say that your first book is one of my very favorites. I only recently picked it up, but it’s always out in my kitchen, at the ready with your wonderful recipes and charming descriptions. I like to not only cook from it, but also just to simply read it! That a second book is on its way is icing on the cake.

  • posey

    I have made this salad and it was extremely good. But fresh basil really adds to it.

  • I love red quinoa! I like to use it instead of couscous once in a while with my spicy braised lamb. Yum.

  • Bonne chance pour le lancement du second livre.
    A quand une séance de dédicaces à l’institut français de Munich?
    Je serais ravie de te servir de guide gourmand.

  • Here I go renouncing my lurker status…I absolutely adore your most current book and am super excited about your next as I am hoping to take a trip out to Paris sometime next year…

    Just wanted to wish you much success with your books!

  • Chantale

    Clotilde, that salad looks gorgeous… I’m going to see if I can hunt down some red quinoa.

    And also, you have no idea how excited I am about your new book… especially since my wife and I are planning a (romantic) getaway to Paris next June. Talk about perfect timing!

  • liz.

    I tried this today and made a few changes that are interesting:

    * I added green snap peas (I was using plain quinoa so the red and the green really stood out) for a bit of crunch.
    * Instead of honey vinegar, I made a vinaigrette of olive oil, tarragon and Jameson. It give the honey kind of flavor, but with a bit of smokiness.

    Thanks for the great receipe – it’s always great when you get my inspirational juices flowing and I just see what comes out!

  • Jim

    The salad is great but what is honey vinegar? Where can I source it? Are there any substitutes?

    Thanks for a wonderful book.

  • Jim – Honey vinegar is a mild vinegar made from honey. You can use cider vinegar instead.

  • Ana

    Hi Clotilde!
    I tried this recipe today and I absolutely loved it! Thank you! I couldn’t find honey vingaer, but mixed lemon juice with honey… and it was marvelous. Thanks again –I had no idea quinoa and tofu would be so delicious!

  • Hi Clotilde,

    Love you salad recipe…It rocks!!…I recently visited Paris and Marseilles and I must say I am still coming out of all the good food that I ate there!! Your recipes brought all those food memories from France back into my mind!!

  • Max

    I bookmarked this recipe immediately! I cannot wait to try it. I’m a big fan of regular quinoa and have been meaning to try the red variety. It’s on my shopping list for this week. Thanks and congrats on the manuscript! :)

  • For those in the UK, red quinoa is available in Holland and Barratt. I bought some today – my first foray into the world of quinoa. I’m thinking I might try it alongside a roast guinea fowl.

    One question: what is “hot sauce”? Is it like Tabasco?

  • Eleanor – Yes, the term “hot sauce” refers to “any spicy sauce made from chili peppers and other ingredients”. Tabasco works well here, but the Wikipedia entry has many more examples beyond that.

  • Julia

    I’ve been challenging myself to make 50 new recipes a year and this was one of them. I loved the flavor combination of quinoa, nuts and smoked tofu. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  • Charlotte

    What is Honey Vinegar and where does one get it?? (USA)

  • Katie

    I like making a salad of some sort on Sundays to sort of start off our week with something homemade. I made this tonight and am delighted. The sweet roasted red peppers combined with the crunch of the quinoa and the bit of spice from the hot sauce is delish! I made it with mozzarella and pistachios. Thank you for the great recipe!

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