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bowl of mediterranean salad with loaf of bread and glass of wine in background

Veggie-Filled Mediterranean Cucumber Salad with Quinoa and Pine Nuts

Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: high protein salad, mediterranean cucumber salad
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 363kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey
This healthy cucumber Mediterranean salad is filled with fresh vegetables, protein-rich quinoa, cannellini beans, and pine nuts, all topped with a flavorful smooth lemony dressing. You'll make this tasty, colorful, protein-filled Mediterranean salad again and again!
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  • ½ cup quinoa dry
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach washed and chopped
  • 2 cups cucumber diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • cup red onion diced
  • ½ cup kalamata olives chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley chopped
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans drained
  • 1 avocado diced

Lemony Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice from two lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic minced finely
  • 1 Tablespoon agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon za'atar
  • optional more salt and pepper to taste.


  • Rinse the quinoa before cooking. This is a step you should not skip. (See blog post above.) In a small saucepan, add the rinsed quinoa and water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep the lid on and let stand for 5 minutes till the water has all absorbed. Drain any excess water.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, you can toast the pine nuts. This is an optional step but really brings out the flavor. You must attend to the pine nuts while they are toasting or they will burn. If you can't do this then skip the toasting!
    Add the pine nuts to a medium skillet. You won't add oil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook them, stirring constantly until they’re lightly browned. As soon as they have turned light golden brown, immediately dump the pine nuts out of the hot skillet to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  • While the quinoa is cooking and cooling, drain the beans, wash and chop the baby spinach leaves, and dice the tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. Save dicing the avocado till just before serving.
  • Place the cooked quinoa in a large salad bowl and allow to cool somewhat.
  • While the quinoa is cooling, make the lemon dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, agave, salt and pepper, and za'atar. See notes.
  • Place all the ingredients except for the diced avocado into the salad bowl along with the cooked quinoa. Toss together with the vinaigrette.
  • Dice and add the avocado right before serving. See notes.


Za'atar is a tasty little seasoning you might not be aware of. Adding Za'atar adds a special punch of flavor to this recipe. If you can not find it or are unwilling to buy Za'atar for this one recipe, then just leave it out. I made this recipe for years before discovering the za'atar. It will still be delicious:)
I personally am not a fan of "old" avocado. I dice mine right before serving. 
My husband does not like lemon flavor. It's sad...But we still really like this salad. When I know he will be eating it, I sub in some red wine vinegar for the lemon juice. 
Add more salt and pepper to taste if desired. I tried to keep the sodium down as much as possible. You can also buy low-sodium canned beans if that is a concern to you. 
It's not in the recipe but I *sometimes* intentionally leave a little leave some of the brine from the olives in the salad. See the blog post above for a photo.
If you are already a lover of Za'atar, you will probably want to sprinkle a little more on top. Because yum, za'atar!


Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 541mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1402IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 4mg