This easy quinoa salad will instantly become your new favorite meal. Light yet filling, refreshing, and complex, it’s sure to become a regular in your warm-weather meal rotation. Loaded with veggies and fresh herbs, great flavor, and crunch, you won’t believe how delicious it is.
This is great served as a main dish or side dish. I like to take it to potlucks, or have it at ladies’ lunches, and family dinner. Everyone absolutely loves it and they don’t even realize it’s wonderfully healthy.
The Best Quinoa Salad Recipe
This recipe is a variation on the now-famous “Friends Salad,” which Jennifer Aniston ate every day for 10 years on the set of Friends. The original recipe calls for bulgar (which is the same as bulgar wheat), a common ingredient in tabbouleh. We’ve created this version of the salad, replacing the bulgur with a more healthy alternative, quinoa. Don’t worry, it tastes every bit as delicious as the original.
Why use quinoa you ask? Well, it’s higher in protein than any other grain. Unlike most plant base proteins, it contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s also loaded with minerals (even iron), antioxidants, and fiber. What’s not to love.
How Healthy Is a Quinoa Salad?
This one-dish wonder is a completely balanced meal with just the right amounts of complex carbohydrates, vegetables, low-fat protein, and healthy fats. It’s even gluten-free!
It’s got a lot of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein. It’s pretty ding-dang healthy!
Can I Add Chicken?
Yes, absolutely. My husband actually prefers it with chicken. I add grilled chicken or rotisserie, depending on what I have on hand. It’s also great with cooked shrimp or salmon as well.
Healthy Quinoa Salad Ingredients
- Quinoa: This salad comes out even better if you have time to cook the quinoa the day before and refrigerated it. It’s not absolutely necessary but I prefer to make it this way. After cooking, fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- Chickpea: aka garbanzo beans
- Mint Leaves
- Feta Cheese
- Pickled Red Onion
- Cherry Tomatoes or Grape Tomatoes: (grape are sweeter!)
- Red Onion
- Red Bell Pepper: great source of vitamin c.
Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Rose Balsamic Vinegar: We aren’t making your standard red wine vinegar vinaigrette! If you can’t find the Rose balsamic, you can use regular balsamic.
Tips + Tricks
- How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge? Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container.
- Can You Freeze This? No.
- Make-Ahead Tips: Chop the vegetables and cook the quinoa ahead. Place it in the fridge and assemble it the day you want to serve it. I like to meal prep the salad, leaving the avocado and dressing off until I’m ready to eat it.
- Add Olives: I like to occasionally add a handful or so of chopped kalamata olives.
- Make Dairy-Free: Simply omit the feta cheese. The salad is still delicious. When I do this (generally because I forgot to pick up feta!!), I do add in some olives to replace the salty flavor. Without feta the salad is vegan.
- Black Beans: Swap the chickpeas with black beans to switch things up once in a while!
What to Serve with Easy Quinoa Salad
Since this is a complete meal, I generally don’t prepare any sides. Iced tea or a cold glass of white wine pairs perfectly!
More Amazing Salad Recipes
If you make this summer quinoa salad, I’d love it if you snapped a photo and tagged me on Instagram, @gonna_want_seconds, or please share this recipe on Pinterest, Facebook, or Yummly! I really appreciate your support, my friends!
- 1/2 cup quinoa cooked
- 1 cup of water
- 15 ounces can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 large cucumber diced (1 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 10-15 mint leaves minced
- 1/2 cup feta crumbled
- 1/4 cup pickled red onion diced
- 1/2 cup pistachio crushed
- 10 small tomatoes diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced (1 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup rose balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic grated
- Pour the uncooked quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to a minute before cooking. Mix the quinoa (1/2 cup) and water (1 cup) in a small saucepan. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from heat (keeping the lid on) and let stand for 5 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Place the cooked quinoa in a large salad bowl off to the side allowing it to cool.
- Add in the remaining salad ingredients. Toss and set aside.
- In a small bowl, add the vinaigrette dressing ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Pour over salad, gently toss, and serve.