Summer Vegetable & Fonio Salad

This Summer Vegetable & Fonio Salad is the perfect messy bowl of deliciousness. Like your messy top bun, you can throw all the extra summer vegetables around your fridge into a bowl and tie it up with this epic citrus dressing.

close up of white bowl with summer vegetable & fonio salad.

Summer Vegetables Are the Stars In This Ancient Grain Salad

To bring this vibrant summer salad to life, you will need the following key ingredients:

 

  • Fonio. Basically a cross between quinoa and couscous, fonio is a nutrient-rich super grain with a deliciously nutty flavor. 
  • Fresh veggies. You will need arugula, grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and Calabrian peppers for this dish. Feel free to leave out the peppers if you aren’t a fan of spice.
  • Herbs. The combination of fresh parsley and mint adds a ton of fresh, vibrant flavor that perfectly complements the rest of our ingredients. 
  • Toppings. I like to top this salad with sliced almonds for a nice crunch and some heart-healthy fats. I also use edible flowers and pea sprouts for garnish because they add a stunning pop of color that really elevates the dish.
  • Homemade vinaigrette. With just a few basic household ingredients like olive oil and lemon juice, we’re going to whip up a quick and easy homemade vinaigrette to coat our salad with.

What is Fonio?

Is it a vegetable? A pasta shape? Someone’s really bad attempt at saying ‘phone’ in Italian? The answer is none of the above. Fonio is a grain that is native to West Africa and has started to gain popularity in the United States in recent years for its host of health benefits. The gluten-free superfood is packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and significantly more protein than most grains. 

 

If couscous and quinoa had a baby, it would be fonio. The flavor is deliciously nutty, and the texture is light and fluffy when cooked. Because the grain is still relatively new to the States, it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out where to buy fonio. You can find fonio at The Fresh Market and Whole Foods, or online through a variety of retailers.

chopped summer vegetables - cilantro, corn, arugula, cherry tomatoes, parsley

Summer Vegetable & Fonio Salad Recipe

This flavorful salad is an ode to summer produce! It takes under 30 minutes to prepare and is made by following these 4 simple steps: 

  1. Prepare the fonio according to package instructions and set aside to cool. 
  2. Lightly brush the corn and your cast-iron skillet or grill pan with olive oil, then allow the pan to heat up over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ears of corn and char them. You’ll get nicely grilled corn by occasionally rotating for an even char on all sides. (12-15 minutes total)
  3. In a large bowl, add lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, kosher salt, and white pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
  4. Add the fonio, vegetables, and fresh herbs to the same bowl and toss them with the vinaigrette to evenly coat. Sprinkle almonds on top, then garnish with sprouts and flower petals just before serving.

How do you cook fonio?

Fonio can be cooked the same way you would cook quinoa or couscous. It’s most often prepared on the stovetop by bringing it to a boil, then removing it from the heat, and letting it sit covered for a few minutes until fully cooked.

large bowl of summer vegetable & fonio salad next to a package of Yolele fonio

Is fonio healthier than quinoa?

While both fonio and quinoa are healthy grains, fonio is widely considered to be healthier. Fonio contains more protein, minerals, and amino acids than quinoa.

Is fonio healthier than quinoa?

For the best results, I recommend storing the dressing separately from the salad. If they’re already combined, you can store the dish in an airtight container for up to 48 hours. When stored separately, the dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days and the salad will keep for 3-4 days.

close up shot of fonio salad with summer vegetables toped with edible flowers and and pea spouts

Is fonio healthier than quinoa?

When I made this salad, I used the ingredients n my fridge, grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, arugula, etc. But this salad is very forgiving and super flexible. If the food in your fridge looks a little different, don’t fret; you can still create a fantastic salad using similar ingredients like:

  • Cucumbers, Green beans, Garbonzo beans, Zucchini, or Squash, could swapped in for any of the heartier veg
  • Romaine, Mixed Greens or even Cabbage swapped in for the Arugula
  • Quinoa or Couscous swapped in for the fonio

 

Is fonio your new favorite thing?

I think it should be. Fonio is one of the most popular grains found across Africa and is quickly gaining popularity in the US. This summer vegetable and fonio salad is a great way to bring new flavor into your regular rotation while taking advantage of all the benefits this super grain offers.

 

If you make it and love it, let me know. I love seeing photos of your delicious creations, so tag @meikoandthedish and #meikoandthedish on Instagram.

summer vegetable & fonio salad in a bowl on top of an african print plate with a yellow napkin

Summer Vegetable & Fonio Salad

This Summer Vegetable  & Fonio Salad is the perfect messy bowl of deliciousness. Sweet grilled corn, spicy arugula, spicy citrus vinaigrette all sitting on a bad of nutritious fonio make this dish a burst of guiltless pleasure.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 484kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups fonio cooked
  • 2 ears of corn charred & kernels removed cob
  • ¼ cup olive oil + 1 teaspoon divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice divided - (1 ½ lemons)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Calabrian peppers optional
  • 2 cups arugula chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¾ cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shallot 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup thin-sliced almonds
  • Pea sprouts for garnish, optional
  • Edible flowers for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • Lightly brush the corn and a cast-iron skillet or grill pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  • Heat the prepared pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Once hot, add the corn cobs and cook, rotating occasionally, until the kernels are charred on all sides, 12–15 minutes. Remove the corn from the pan and let cool, then cut the kernels off the cobs.
  • Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, remaining ¼ cup olive oil, salt, and white pepper.
  • To the bowl with the vinaigrette, add the Calabrian peppers, if using, the arugula, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, shallot, corn kernels, and fonio. Toss to combine.
  • Sprinkle the almonds on top of the salad, then garnish with pea sprouts and edible flowers, if desired.
  • Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Mention @MeikoAndTheDish or tag #MeikoAndTheDish

Nutrition

Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 767mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1769IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 5mg

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Welcome! I’m Meiko, a Dallas-based food blogger who loves to share life and culture through food. There are no strangers around these parts only good eats. Let’s get to know each other better!

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Meet Meiko

Welcome! I’m Meiko, a Dallas-based food blogger who loves to share life and culture through food. There are no strangers around these parts only good eats. Let’s get to know each other better!

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