We've rounded up 20 flavorful quinoa salads, perfect for hearty lunches or dinnertime sides.
August 19, 2014
1 of 21Photo: Squire Fox
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.
2 of 21Photo: Squire Fox
Kale Caesar Quinoa Salad with Roasted Chicken
We skip the croutons and add toasted walnuts for a bit of heart-healthy crunch.
3 of 21Photo: Squire Fox
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.
4 of 21Photo: Squire Fox
Roasted Carrot, Chicken, and Grape Quinoa Bowl
Caramelized carrots and fresh, juicy grapes lend a welcome sweetness to this quinoa.
5 of 21Photo: Squire Fox
Asian Stir-Fry Quinoa Bowl
Sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and sliced napa cabbage give this stir-fry vibrant Asian flavor.
6 of 21Photo: Johnny Autry
Curried Quinoa Salad with Cucumber-Mint Raita
We like the heat that Madras curry powder brings, but use regular curry powder if you prefer.
7 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
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.
8 of 21Photo: Iain Bagwell
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.
9 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
Spicy Grilled Shrimp With Quinoa Salad
Quinoa, shrimp, and chickpeas pack a triple punch of protein into this tasty dish.
10 of 21Photo: Anna Williams
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.
11 of 21Photo: Oxmoor House
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.
12 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates, and Oranges
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.
13 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
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.
14 of 21Photo: Jan Smith
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.
15 of 21Photo: Randy Mayor
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.
16 of 21Photo: Johnny Miller
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.
17 of 21Photo: Andrea Dorsey
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.
18 of 21Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Quinoa, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Chive-Infused Oil
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.
19 of 21Photo: Howard Puckett
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.
20 of 21Photo: Nina Choi
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.
21 of 21Photo: Jennifer Causey
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.