Quinoa Salad Recipes
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We've rounded up 20 flavorful quinoa salads, perfect for hearty lunches or dinnertime sides.
Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Chipotle Steak
Quinoa is a fluffy, gluten-free grain that works beautifully in pilafs and delicate salads. To keep the grains from getting too mushy, try a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 1¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 to 14 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Yield: about 3 cups cooked quinoa. Per cooked cup: 220 calories, 8g protein, 5g fiber.
First up is our Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Chipotle Steak. We love the chipotle-rubbed sirloin, but this salad is a wonderful use for any leftover steak.
Kale Caesar Quinoa Salad with Roasted Chicken
We skip the croutons and add toasted walnuts for a bit of heart-healthy crunch.
Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa with Tahini Drizzle
Roasting adds an earthy depth of flavor to the veggies, but you can save time by keeping them raw—just toss right into the quinoa.
Roasted Carrot, Chicken, and Grape Quinoa Bowl
Caramelized carrots and fresh, juicy grapes lend a welcome sweetness to this quinoa.
Asian Stir-Fry Quinoa Bowl
Sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and sliced napa cabbage give this stir-fry vibrant Asian flavor.
Curried Quinoa Salad with Cucumber-Mint Raita
We like the heat that Madras curry powder brings, but use regular curry powder if you prefer.
Kale, Quinoa, and Cherry Salad
Sweet, juicy cherries absolutely burst with goodness in this main-dish salad. If it’s not cherry season, or if you don’t have cherries on hand, you can swap in halved red grapes or 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries or dried cranberries. To ease prep, we call for precooked quinoa and brown rice blend, but don’t sweat it if you can’t find this product. You can use 12 ounces of cooked quinoa (roughly 2 cups cooked). And if you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try topping the salad with crumbled feta or queso fresco instead.
Spicy Bean and Quinoa Salad with "Mole" Vinaigrette
The components of a classic mole sauce—sweet spices, chile heat, and dark chocolate—create a delicious vinaigrette for this whole-grain salad. Pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) work great with the Mexican-inspired flavors, but you can use any crunchy nut you like; we’d suggest sliced toasted almonds or roasted pistachios. There’s plenty of protein, plus a hefty serving size, to make this a main-dish salad, but you can also serve smaller portions as a side or starter salad. For a little extra richness, sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese, and for a bigger protein hit, top the salad with sliced grilled flank steak.
Spicy Grilled Shrimp With Quinoa Salad
Quinoa, shrimp, and chickpeas pack a triple punch of protein into this tasty dish.
Beet, Blood Orange, Kumquat, and Quinoa Salad
This hearty grain salad featuring blood orange sections, beets, kumquats, and avocado is brimming with rich colors, textures, and nutrients from the vitamin- and protein-packed ingredients.
Red Quinoa Salad
Red quinoa makes a beautiful main-dish salad, but you can use whichever color you’d like. We love the briny, salty flavor feta gives the Mediterranean-flavored salad, but crumbled goat cheese would work just as well. Letting the oil mixture stand for 20 minutes helps infuse it with shallot flavor and develop delicious nuances. It's wise to mix the dressing into the quinoa while it's still a little warm: Room temperature or cold grains and starches do not absorb liquid nearly as well. Use a flavorful, good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best results—simple recipes like this depend on using great ingredients.
Quinoa Salad With Asparagus, Dates, and Oranges
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
This side dish salad combines several influences: The dates and orange are an Israeli touch; the pecans pay homage to the American South; and the quinoa is a high-protein grain from South America.
Quinoa Salad with Vegetables and Tomatillo Vinaigrette
Quinoa combines with crisp, colorful vegetables and tart vinaigrette for a delicious main-dish salad. Creamy queso anejo balances the tartness of the dressing. Queso blanco or ricotta salata are good substitutes.
Black Bean-Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing
This zesty salad is full of fresh vegetables and protein- and fiber-packed tofu and beans, making this a vegetarian main salad everyone will love. The salad is also versatile: swap out the basil, lemon juice, and mustard for chopped cilantro, lime juice, and a little minced jalapeño. Use any vegetables you like in place of the tomato, onions, and carrot. Building the salad in stages allows for maximum flavor and texture: tofu sears separately until very crisp, the vinaigrette is tossed with the hot cooked quinoa so it can absorb, and fresh vegetables are added right at the end to retain their crunch.
Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pistachios
Here’s a great make-ahead lunch that will get you through most of the week. Simply prepare the salad on Sunday night, and pack in four portable containers. Crunchy romaine will hold up well, and the quinoa will only get better over time, soaking up all the fruity flavors. Dried apricots and golden raisins—each with a bright, slightly tart flavor—work beautifully here, but you can swap in any dried fruit you like. (Dried cherries would be particularly good.) If you’d like to use fresh apricots, by all means do; but know that they won’t hold up as long if you’re making the salad ahead.
Quinoa-Arugula Layered Salad
We made over tabbouleh, turning it into an individually packed picnic dish. This salad holds beautifully, so you can pack it up a day ahead. For the easiest eating, choose wide-mouthed pint jars.
Quinoa and Parsley Salad
This dish is a nice change from a traditional green lettuce salad, as it is fresh and filling. Celery and toasted pumpkinseeds add crunch, while dried apricots lend a soft, sweet touch.
Quinoa, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Chive-Infused Oil
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Brightly colored flavored oil coats the quinoa grains and lends the salad fresh chive flavor. Refrigerate leftover oil to use as a dressing to drizzle over grilled fish or summer vegetables. Garnish with whole fresh chives, if desired.
Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad
Featuring delicious produce and protein-rich quinoa, this colorful recipe was a finalist from our Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest. Make a big batch to serve for lunch throughout the week.
Quinoa Salad with Artichokes and Parsley
If ever a side could shout “Spring is here!” this would be it. A generous heap of fresh lemon rind adds zip, fresh parsley adds color and freshness, and tender artichoke hearts make this a substantial side dish. We use frozen, thawed artichoke hearts here (fresh ones can require more time to prep, and canned may be higher in sodium and slightly too soft). Sweet onion is another springtime staple. We sauté the onion and fresh thyme just until tender before adding the quinoa. Serve with simply roasted fish, or pair with roast chicken and a side of glazed and roasted carrots.
Quinoa Panzanella with Wild Salmon
Perfect for a light dinner or make-ahead lunch, this quinoa salad is a great example of how to build a more plant-based meal. A small amount of wild salmon stretches over four portions, serving more as a rich accent than a center-of-the-plate protein. Nutty quinoa binds all the ingredients together; crunchy cucumbers and red onion provide great texture, while juicy multicolored cherry tomatoes offer sweet-tangy notes. Capers bring their distinctive salty, briny flavor to the mix—you can sub finely chopped olives if you don’t have them on hand.
Quick and filling quinoa salad is a southwest style salad filled with corn, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, and smothered in a simple lime vinaigrette.
Quinoa salad is perfectly filling as a stand alone meal, or a great side to yummy dishes like Skillet Chicken Caprese, Pork Roast, or Rotisserie Chicken.
Quinoa is a versatile base for salads. It’s nutritious, tastes nutty, and it is very easy to prepare. To make the best quinoa salad, keep these tips in mind:
- Prepare and cook the quinoa properly. We’ve shared an entire article showing you how to cook quinoa, but here are the main takeaways. First, before you cook it, it’s best to rinse quinoa. Rinsing well before cooking reduces the saponin and produces a delicious nutty flavor.
- Choose lots of colorful veggies and textures to add to the salad. I’m not the biggest fan of quinoa’s texture, but when you mix it with crisp veggies and crunchy seeds or nuts, I’m a very happy girl.
- Use a bright and flavorful salad dressing. Quinoa is a fantastic salad base, but it doesn’t have that much flavor by itself. That’s why we love tossing it with an ultra-flavorful dressing. As the salad sits, the quinoa absorbs the dressing and gets more and more delicious over time.
What to Add to Quinoa Salad?
We like our salads packed with goodies. Add lots of colorful and crunchy vegetables, nuts or seeds, and something a bit sweet like dried blueberries or cranberries.
The vegetables you use are up to you, but here’s what we’ve added:
- Cucumber adds crunch and freshness. It’s rare that we don’t add cucumber to salads around here. It’s a star in our lemon orzo salad as well as in our easy chickpea salad.
- Bok choy is one of my favorite salad ingredients. It’s a total powerhouse of nutrition and is the perfect alternative to other hearty veggies like kale, broccoli, and spinach thanks to its milder taste and crunchy texture. If you enjoy bok choy as much as we do, take a look at our 10-minute lemon garlic bok choy recipe, it’s a total winner.
- Grated carrots add color and are loaded with vitamin A and antioxidants. Grating them is quick, too. We use our box grater, but you can buy pre-grated carrots or use a food processor attachment.
- Bell peppers add even more color to the salad — I especially love using yellow or red peppers for this. They also add crunch and sweetness, not to mention their high levels of vitamin C, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
- Fresh herbs add color, lots of flavors, and even add their nutrients to the party. We love stirring in a generous amount of parsley and mint.
In addition to the vegetables, we throw in some nuts and seeds — the type is completely up to you, but we especially love buttery pine nuts and pepitas. Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or seeds like sunflower seeds are also excellent options.
We also like to add something sweet. In the photos, we’ve added dried wild blueberries. Cranberries or raisins will also work. If they are in season, fresh fruit will work, too. I cannot wait until summer so I can add a handful of fresh blueberries to this salad.
As a final ingredient, we stir in chickpeas, which make the salad even more hearty and satisfying. You can use canned or home cooked chickpeas — here’s our tutorial for how to cook dried chickpeas if you are interested. Other beans, like black beans, work, too. In fact, you may enjoy our black bean salad with quinoa, which has lots of veggies and a zesty lime dressing.
What Dressing Goes with Quinoa
As I mentioned above, it’s all about bright and flavorful when it comes to the quinoa salad dressing. We keep things simple with a combination of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, a touch of honey for balance, and extra-virgin olive oil. (For a vegan dressing, swap the honey for maple syrup.)
When we have them in the kitchen, we love to add a last-minute spritz of fresh lemon to the salad. It brightens everything up even more.
Here’s another recipe featuring quinoa: Delightful Vegetarian Chili with quinoa and black beans.
Quinoa Salad Variations
As written, this is a vegan quinoa salad — it’s delicious, hearty, and extremely satisfying this way. That said, there are lots of variations you can do to make this salad your own.
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup diced (yellow or purple) onion
- 2 ½ cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups quinoa
- ¾ cup diced fresh tomato
- ¾ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Heat the canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir the garlic and 1/4 cup onion in the hot oil until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and bring to a boil stir the quinoa into the mixture, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any remaining water from the quinoa with a mesh strainer and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate until cold.
Stir the tomato, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, corn, and 1/4 cup red onion into the chilled quinoa. Season with cilantro, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad gently stir until evenly mixed.
Quinoa Salad Recipes - Recipes
- 200g quinoa
- 50g flaked almonds
- ½ large cucumber
- 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 50g raisins
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
- Bunch of mint, leaves only
- Juice of 1 lime
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then drain and spread out on a large plate or tray to cool quickly.
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until golden and place in a salad bowl.
Using a vegetable peeler, take lengthways strips of skin off the cucumber so that it looks stripy. Cut it in half lengthways, then spoon out and discard the seeds. Chop the cucumber into half-moon slices and add to the almonds in the salad bowl.
Add the tomatoes, raisins, spring onions and half the mint to the bowl. Then add the cooked quinoa and mix everything together. Season well with salt and pepper. Dress the salad with the lime juice and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve.
Ultimate Home Cooking
By Hodder & Stoughton
Text © Gordon Ramsay 2013
Photography © Con Poulos 2013
25 Easy Quinoa Recipes You'll Love
Chances are you've probably heard the words "quinoa" and "superfood" used in the same sentence at least once or twice&mdashand for good reason! Quinoa is packed with all sorts of nutritious stuff: fiber, antioxidants, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamin E. Quinoa is technically a seed, but it's considered a whole grain and provides all nine essential amino acids&mdashwhich makes it a great source of protein. In other words, quinoa is really, really good for you! Ree Drummond admits she was late to the quinoa party, but now she's a big fan&mdashand she has some great quinoa recipes.
Quinoa is an ancient crop: The seeds are native to the Andean region of South America and have been grown there for thousands of years. Quinoa was a primary plant for the Inca, Aymara and Quechua people. Nowadays, quinoa has become a favorite in grain bowls and soups&mdashmuch like brown rice and barley, quinoa is a great, healthy base for veggies and protein. If you're looking for quinoa recipes, there are many different directions you can take: sweet or savory, dinner or snack. you could even make a quinoa cake! Quinoa is an incredibly versatile ingredient, so it's easy to find something that's just right for you.
Customize your Quinoa Salad
There are a few tweaks and customizations you could add here that I think would be amazing! As written, this is a vegan quinoa salad, but it doesn’t have to be. Use this recipe as your baseline, and then have fun and make it your own. Here are some ideas:
- Quinoa Salad with Avocado
- Quinoa Salad with Chicken (make it a meal in itself!)
- Quinoa Salad with dried cranberries
- Quinoa Salad with feta or goat cheese
See how just a little addition can change the salad up? Have fun!
I really think you’re going to love all the flavors and textures in this quinoa salad recipe. I hope you try it soon!
From snacks to salads, quinoa can be used to add the punch of protein and complex carbohydrates to a whole range of dishes. In terms of texture, quinoa could do great wonders too. Nutritionally speaking, 100 grams of quinoa provides 64 grams of carbohydrates with 7 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein and 368 Kcal of energy (as per data by the United States Department of Agriculture). It is also rich in a host of vitamins, including Vitamin B9 or folate and choline. The latter is important in reducing risks of liver disease, atherosclerosis and neurological disorders. You may use quinoa to make delicious and nutritious grain salads.Quinoa is known as a superfood due to its strong nutritional profile
The ingredients are pretty straightforward. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has become mainstream in the past few years and is available at most large supermarkets. It’s a high protein seed that has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. It looks like couscous and is eaten like a grain, but it’s actually a cousin of spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens.
Fish sauce is also fairly easy to find. Most large supermarkets carry it in the Asian section and you can always find it at Whole Foods or Asian markets. It’s a dark, pungent liquid used in Southeast Asian cooking. Contrary to what you might expect, it doesn’t add a “fishy” taste to foods at all, but rather a salty, savory flavor. If possible, buy a brand imported from Thailand or Vietnam. And don’t worry about buying a large bottle — it keeps forever.
Begin by cooking the quinoa. The key to success is not following the package instructions, which always call for too much liquid and result in mushy quinoa. The ideal ratio is 1 cup of quinoa to 1-2/3 cups of liquid. Simply combine the water, salt and quinoa is a pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the quinoa is done, about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the little white “tails” sprout from the grains.
While the quinoa cooks, prepare the vegetables.
For the cucumbers, I like to use English (or hothouse) cucumbers because the skin is edible and you don’t need to peel them. They’re sometimes called seedless cucumbers but you still need to seed them, otherwise, they’ll make your salad watery.
Slice the red pepper into bite-sized pieces, thinly slice the scallions and shred the carrot.
Next, make the dressing by combining the fresh lime juice (no bottled stuff!), sugar, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes and fish sauce in a small bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Combine the quinoa with the dressing, vegetables and fresh herbs.
Healthy Gluten-free and Vegan Quinoa Salad Recipes
I'm of the firm belief that one can never have too many quinoa salad recipes in one's cooking repertoire. Quinoa salad is surprisingly tasty and healthy! It's fairly quick to make, can easily serve a large group of people and keeps well, making it the perfect dish to make when you need something to serve a crowd at a vegetarian or vegan potluck, plus, it transports well for cookouts and barbecues, and is as versatile as your imagination. Feel free to experiment by adding different veggies such as zucchini, corn or even kale or spinach greens.
Whole grain quinoa cooks quicker than most other whole grains and is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians with about 11 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa. Not sure what quinoa is or how to use it?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare a healthy quinoa salad. All of these recipes are vegetarian and they're also either vegan or easily vegan-izeable. Because quinoa is a gluten-free grain, most are gluten-free as well but be sure to double-check the ingredients.
Are you bored of quinoa and want to try something new? Have you already tried kaniwa?