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Naturally Gluten Free Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

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People that have to eat gluten free are no longer able to eat couscous. But couscous is such a good base for so many dishes. Quinoa is a safe substitute. Quinoa is a tiny, tiny seed, known as a miracle grain or mother of grains from the Incas of South America. It is full of protein. Price wise, even though it sounds more expensive per pound than couscous, there is probably not much difference in price once it is cooked.

Quinoa does have a chemically strange smell as it cooks, this is due to saponin, a naturally occurring coating to the quinoa that is presumed to be an insect repellent in the growing fields. Some brands on the Internet say they have already rinsed the quinoa to remove the saponin. Unless the packaging states this then you still have to rinse. I put the raw quinoa in a saucepan, cover with cold water and rub the grains repeatedly between my fingers.

Then you either drain and rinse the quinoa three times through a very fine flour sieve, or through a coffee filter. The grains are so fine they fall through most strainers. Epicurious tells you to steam quinoa once cooked with a dishcloth on top. I didn't find that worked that well and quinoa still stuck to dish cloth. I like my way. Wikipedia says to soak the raw quinoa for several hours - that's not going to happen, is it?

Naturally Gluten Free Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

Makes about 4-5 cups
  • 1 c gf chicken broth (V8 vegetable juice is a good GF substitute - there is also a spicy option)
  • c dry quinoa, rinsed as noted above
  • grated rind of half a lemon - lime rind if you want really Mexican flare.
  • 1 small zucchini, finely chopped or shredded in processor
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped or shredded
  • The green part of 2 green onions finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint - chops herbs in the jug you will use to make the olive oil dressing.
  • 1 large tomato chopped or equivalent of cherry or grape tomatoes quartered (about 12 grape tomatoes)
  • 4" piece of cucumber peeled and diced
  • c olive oil
  • 2-4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp Dickinsons hot pepper spread (a hot pepper jelly that adds just a nice bite)
  • Salt and pepper
  • lb thawed and rinsed cooked shrimp. I like the 150-200/lb salad shrimp that Costco normally carries. They are cleaned with no black vein. Recently I have been buying their 50-70/lb cooked black tiger shrimp.
  • Cashew Nuts


1. Bring broth to a boil in 1 qt. pan and add lemon rind. Stir in quinoa, bring back to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for about 15 minutes, when the liquid should have been absorbed. Turn off the heat under the pan. Leave the quinoa in the pan, covered, for about 10 more minutes so all liquid is totally absorbed if you want a drier mix. I will also empty cooked quinoa onto a dish and put in warm oven for about another 10 minutes if I want a very dry quinoa. This is down to your personal preference. If you are serving the quinoa hot with a sauce then it is fine for it to be quite moist.

2. Add zucchini, carrots, tomato, cucumber, green onion and herbs and mix well. I've also added in addition or instead of, yellow squash, roasted red pepper, asparagus. Your choice. A girlfriend just makes this with shrimp and frozen peas.

3. In a 1c jug melt hot pepper spread in microwave then add and mix together olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper and stir with a fork or whisk until the mix looks creamy - an emulsion has been formed.

4. Pour this dressing over quinoa, stir in shrimp, stir well and transfer to serving bowl . Refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Check for salt, more herbs, more lemon etc. I like a little cilantro instead of mint for Mexican flavor.

5. Top with some cashew nuts for extra crunch, or peanuts, smoked almonds etc.


Some finely chopped celery or green pepper would also go well. Freshly chopped apple could be added but the apple pieces would need to be turned in lemon juice before adding to the salad to prevent browning.

Use - ¾ cup of your own favorite salad dressing for a change of flavor.

Italian version - add chopped fresh basil, 1/3 lb pepperoni julienned, 1/3 c of sun dried tomatoes sliced, -1 roasted red pepper diced, 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar, sliced olives, capers. Omit mint.

Mexican version - add ground chipotle pepper to the broth, add cilantro, substitute lime rind for lemon rind, add chick peas, fresh mango.

Greek version - oregano, mint, olives, feta cheese, tomatoes.

Add any substitution of cubed turkey, ham etc, add chick peas, kidney beans. Any range of spices of herbs can be added to broth to flavor it. Use orange rind.

© 2000-2009 Royal Temptations

Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers Catering services, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner and has her own series on Merrimack TV. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
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