Quinoa Salad with Ricotta and Garam Masala Dressing

quinoa salad 6

It’s been a pretty inconsistent climate in my part of the world. We wake up to a crisp, slightly chill morning followed by a very warm afternoon and then, a pleasant evening. While some days we reach out for a hearty, steaming bowl of soup, on other days, we prefer a light salad. In one way, it’s adding a variety in our life. The air still doesn’t scream autumn but it sure is prepping me to think of stew, roast chicken, baked bread, baked pie and bid goodbye to salad for a while.


Being the summer girl that I am, I find it very difficult to let go the sunshine, let go the warm clear sky, the long days and summer fruits. But I am gearing up, getting ready for the change, for apple and pears, and to fill the home with fall flavors.


Quinoa Salad with Ricotta and Garam Masala Dressing 1


Until then, stay with me on this salad, which is definitely light but can very well be served on a cold winter evening. Mix the dressing while the quinoa is still warm and pair it with toasted, crusty bread. Comforting.


Quinoa Salad with Ricotta and Garam Masala Dressing 2


Quinoa is still not a favorite ingredient in my home and we are taking time to make it a part of our regular diet. It took a very long time for me to start cooking with this very healthy grain like crop that is filled with protein, fiber and iron. I was intimidated by it and I failed a couple of times. And then slowly the concept started settling down making me realize that it’s one of those ingredients which is versatile, like rice, and can be prepared in various ways. Sweet or Savory!


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My favorite part of the salad, beside the fact how colorful it looks, is the creamy dressing. Ricotta mixed with mint, garam masala and fresh lime juice for the tang. At the end, pour some extra virgin olive oil slowly while beating vigorously to emulsify the two components to a perfect creamy dressing. It is currently my favorite salad dressing, where at times ricotta can be replaced with yogurt and garam masala can be replaced with some other spice like cumin or coriander powder.


Quinoa Salad with Ricotta and Garam Masala Dressing 4


Both the salad and the dressing can be made couple of days in advance and served cold or at room temperature.


quinoa salad 6

Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


For the dressing

  • 2 cups of ricotta cheese, which can be replaced with plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilly powder
  • salt
  • freshly cracked pepper

For the salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cup water
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • handful of red grapes, cut in half
  • 1 medium size cucumber, cut into bite size
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, or any other dried fruit you prefer
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish


For the dressing

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk everything except extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Next, pour the extra virgin olive oil from top and whisk again until it creamy and smooth.
  3. Taste for salt and add if required.

How to cook quinoa

  1. Rinse the quinoa with cold water for a couple of times and then soak it in the cold water for 5 minutes.
  2. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the water.
  3. Mix quinoa with 1-1/2 cup water and pinch of salt in a deep pan with a tight lid. Let it cook at high heat until the water starts boiling.
  4. Then, lower the heat to medium, cover it with the tight lid and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed. It should take about 15-17 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 more minutes with the lid on.
  6. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork.

Making the salad

  1. In a serving bowl, lightly toss the cooked quinoa with the chopped vegetables.
  2. Pour the dressing on top and toss once again.
  3. Add some dried fruits, chopped cilantro and serve.


  • A different version of the same salad can be to substitute quinoa with couscous.
  • If you can't find ricotta or don't like ricotta, you can always replace it with plain yogurt.


Quinoa Salad with Ricotta and Garam Masala Dressing 5

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  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    October 2, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I’m a summer girl too, and I’m not ready to let it slip away! What a gorgeous salad – I must confess that I haven’t fallen for quinoa yet but this looks too good. It might make me a convert!

  • Anamika
    October 2, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Lovely post Kankan and a tempting colorful Quinoa Salad. I have never used Quinoa and dont know where do we get out here, need to do a little reserch on this soon, till then can surely try out this creamy dressing :)!

  • tigerfish
    October 2, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    For a day like today that is super hot in the Bay Area, a salad sounds great! And what’s better than a nutritious salad like quinoa salad 🙂

  • Reem | Simply Reem
    Reem | Simply Reem
    October 2, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    I’m so staying with you on this Salad!!!
    I’m so preparing myself for fall but seems like neither the brutal temprature nor me r really ready for it… 😉
    Beautiful shots… Loving the bowl…

  • Rosa
    October 2, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    The weather’s a bit the same here. Very inconsistent.

    This salad is really scrumptious looking and your clicks are delightful!



  • KiranTarun
    October 2, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    If you love sunshine so much, come and visit Florida. We’d had enough of blazing sunshine. It’s officially fall and it doesn’t feel like it, one bit 😀

    Love this creamy dressing on delicious bowl of quinoa salad 🙂

  • sangeeta khanna
    sangeeta khanna
    October 2, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Lovely healthy salad. Your pictures are awesome as always 🙂
    Sharing it.

  • indugetscooking
    October 3, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Love the colours in the salad. And red grapes, tomatoes, cranberries? So much flavour in there!

  • Sanjeeta kk
    Sanjeeta kk
    October 3, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    Awee… love that cute rustic basket and the dressing spilling over the board! Quinoa meal is always welcome at my home.

  • debjani
    October 3, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    How many times have I picked up a box of quinoa at the grocery only to put it back down. The thought of an extremely tangy quinoa salad that happened to be my first taste has got me biased. I have never heard of ricotta in salad dressing and it sounds very interesting! That box might get in the cart with me next time.

  • Nupur
    October 3, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    A perfect summer breakfast.. I spoecially love the tempting picture (second last one)

  • thyme (Sarah)
    thyme (Sarah)
    October 3, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    That creamy dressing sounds and looks so delicious.

  • shema george
    shema george
    October 3, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    beautiful salad…and really interesting use of ricotta ….will give it a try for sure…loved the pic of the dressing …

  • vanamala
    October 3, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Very nice recipe…love Quinoa dressing.

  • Nancy/SpicieFoodie
    October 3, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    I feel the same way and always try to hold on to summer as long as I can. Quinoa is one of my favorite grains and I love trying out new recipes. This looks amazing! I could eat it for lunch or a light dinner. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Deepa
    October 3, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    good to know that atleast you are getting familiarize with quiona , it’s an alien grain for me till date. That basket looks so good…Salad looks so good…

  • Vijitha
    October 3, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Super delicious and super-duper healthy. Love the mint dressing. Going to fix this for lunch one of these days. As always AWESOME pics sweetie!

  • Richa
    October 3, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    love this masaledaar quinoa salad! we eat loads of quinoa:)

  • Eha
    October 3, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    What a beautiful, colourful recipe using one of my fave grains! More than that, really appreciate having the ingredients for this dressing: sounds different to anything I have tried and could be used in a number of ways 🙂 !

  • Funwidfud
    October 3, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Yummy looking salad…Loved the dressing and various flavors in it…Beautiful clicks…Loved the dressing click…sooo messy…still its very beautiful…

  • chinmayie @ love food eat
    chinmayie @ love food eat
    October 3, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    I still haven’t tried Quinoa. I somehow prefer to cook with local grains which don’t even cost a fraction of imported quinoa and are actually equally healthy.
    Will try a salad like this with foxtail millet 🙂

  • Arch
    October 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    That looks like a lovely dressing…never tried quinoa, but will try that dressing for sure…Picture of that can with quinoa is beautiful.

  • Shumaila
    October 3, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    A lovely introduction to the salad. Your words drew me into trying the recipe. I am pinning this and definitely will be trying it out. And the usual line that I always put (because its always true of your posts)- your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

  • Anna
    October 3, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    So nice you have your own blog! It’s one more chance to enjoy your wonderful photos.

  • mjskit
    October 3, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    That is a colorful salad! I would never have thought to use a creamy dressing with quinoa, but after seeing this, it’s obvious that it works just fine. The dressing sounds very flavorful and perfect for this gorgeous salad. Beautiful post!

  • Jessie
    October 4, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Love quinoa. Great photos as always! Nice job. 🙂

  • Charul @ Tadka Masal
    Charul @ Tadka Masal
    October 4, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I am totally a winter girl, I just love warm soups and hot dinners. Winters in India are sunny also, I love that winter sunshine but above all I love love love cuddling up underneath a blanket. Oh! I miss winters.
    Love that dressing and garam masala in it.

  • IshitaUnblogged
    October 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Obviously you are a summer girl and find it difficult to let go the sunshine – your logo says it all…
    Beautiful photographs obviously (everytime I’ll copy-post this) and I’m really interested in making Quinoa a part of our diet as well, but somehow nobody likes it that much. But the dressing here is too tempting and may tempt me to take a plunge!

  • Meeta
    October 5, 2012 at 6:01 AM

    I am the summer girl through and through and while I appreciate all what the other seasons have there is nothing like the warm days and nights of summer. Quinoa is a staple at our home and we love salads like this! Like the addition of Garam Masala here.

  • Charles
    October 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    I’m starting to adore quinoa – I make a very similar salad… without the ricotta though… a bit like a tabbouleh. It makes a fantastic meal doesn’t it? So much healthier than pasta or couscous, and it’s pretty much just as filling!

    Love your salad – it looks so colourful!

  • Tes
    October 6, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Wow, the garam masala dressing looks really fantastic 🙂

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    October 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    That dressing sounds fantastic, must give it a try!

  • reese@SeasonwithSpic
    [email protected]
    October 8, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    What a lovely salad, Kankana. My mouth waters by just looking at the creamy, flavorful dressing. I’m with you on serving light salads on cold winter days.

  • Kitchen Belleicious
    Kitchen Belleicious
    October 8, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    the dressing itself is to die for. love the idea of ricotta agaisnt the flavors of the garam masala.

  • Aunt Clara
    Aunt Clara
    October 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Oh wow, there’s food from everywhere there. What a unique combination. The pictures are lovely, as always.

  • erin @ yummy supper
    erin @ yummy supper
    October 9, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Kankana, for someone who does love quinoa, you sure make a delicious quinoa meal;) That creamy dressing looks especially amazing!
    Wishing you a good week,

  • Lubna Karim
    Lubna Karim
    October 9, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Even that pot is drooling over I think….lovely pictures…..What can I comment on the recipe that is making me carve for it right now….

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    October 9, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Come to think of it, I’ve never tried Indian inspired dressing in my life! :O this is something I should make. Garam masala and ricotta? Hmmm sounds delicious! Your pictures are so dreamy and beautiful!

  • Divya
    October 10, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    Beautifully done, Kankana! It’s a great dish for a weeknight supper.

  • Yelena
    October 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    The dressing looks so good. I don’t have garam masala at the moment but it,s going to be on my shopping list next time. The salad looks very tasty. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!