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Healthy Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe

This flavorful vegetable quinoa salad recipe is packed with healthy fresh veggies, pops with bold colors and is super versatile.

Make it ahead for a buffet, potluck or weekday lunch.

veggie quinoa in serving bowl  2

I recently served this recipe in a glass bowl at a retirement party to show off the colors and textures. Several people asked me for the recipe and took home ‘loot bags’ of the leftovers. So, I guess it was a hit!

The recipe is loosely based on a Thai quinoa salad by Jennifer Segal from Once Upon a Chef. She uses a Thai dressing.

The dressing I use has citrus notes and is just one of many variations that would work with this quinoa salad. We’ve included a few others below.

I consider a veggie quinoa salad two sides in one – healthy grains and crunchy vegetables. Adding a protein like shrimp or tofu is a great way to turn it into into a full meal. Or just eat it as is for a light lunch.

veggie quinoa in serving bowl with shrimp

What to serve with veggie quinoa salad

As a side dish, I like serving it with cedar planked grilled whole chicken, peanut butter chicken or herb stuffed salmon.

As an appetizer, it’s fun to serve in mini plastic or glass cups with tasting spoons (buy them at a dollar store).

For a complete meal, add cooked shrimp, tofu, thinly sliced beef, grilled chicken or diced roasted vegetables.

Serve the quinoa salad cold or at room temperature.

Tailor To Your Taste

The flavors in vegetable quinoa (which is vegan by the way) come from the zesty dressing and herbs. Play around with the ingredients to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. Here are a few excellent options.

Dressing options

  • Mediterranean quinoa salad: use Italian dressing with feta cheese, a red onion and chopped olives.
  • Thai quinoa salad: make a dressing of lime, brown sugar, fish sauce, oil and cilantro.
  • For a Mexican version, toss the quinoa and veggies with black beans and a spicy salsa.
  • Try adding a splash of balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar or Thai sweet chili sauce to the recipe below if you like.

Fresh herbs and vegetables

  • Try shredded red cabbage or thinly sliced jicama in addition to carrots, red bell peppers, cucumber and green onions.
  • Instead of fresh parsley, use chives, basil or fresh cilantro

How to make a quinoa vegetable salad

cucumber peeled with seeds scooped out
Scoop seeds out of a cucumber (to avoid sogginess). I use a measuring spoon with sharp edges.
finely chopped salad veggies and dry quinoa
Ingredients: dry quinoa, chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, green onion and grated carrot. Optional basil leaves.
cooked quinoa in pot
Make fluffy quinoa and let it cool in the fridge.
dressing in bowl for veggie quinoa
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
chopped veggies and cooked quinoa in bowl
Place chopped veggies, herbs and cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Add dressing and mix to combine.
veggie quinoa in serving bowl p

FAQ about quinoa

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) looks like a grain, but it is actually a seed. For nutritional purposes, however, it is considered gluten-free whole grains according to Healthline. There are 3000 varieties including black, red and tri-color.

Is quinoa healthy?

Yes, very! According to Healthline, quinoa has expeptional health benefits. It contains more fiber and protein than most other grains. And it’s packed with nutrients and plant compounds. Quinoa is considered a complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids you need.

Shortcuts

  • Use store bought shredded or match stick carrots
  • Buy your favorite salad dressing
  • Instead of using all the fresh salad vegetables and herbs in the recipe, just use 2-3 (less chopping).

Make Ahead and Store

  • The veggie quinoa salad keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, making great leftovers or a perfect pot luck contribution.

Other quinoa recipes you might enjoy

veggie quinoa in serving bowl 2
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Healthy Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe

This flavorful vegetable quinoa salad recipe is packed with healthy fresh veggies, pops with bold colors and is super versatile. Great for lunches, potluck or buffet tables.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-washed or rinsed
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh vegetables and herbs

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in thin 1/2/ inch (1.3 cm) pieces
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Dressing ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed (3-4 limes) (or substitute with fresh lemon juice)
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup, Note 1 (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like more heat)

Optional garnish

  • pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, orange zest, lemon zest

Instructions

  • MAKE QUINOA: Combine quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Cooked quinoa will sprout little tails from the grains when done. Transfer to a serving bowl and cool in the fridge.
  • MAKE DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • COMBINE: Once quinoa is cooled, combine vegetables, herbs and dressing. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and herbs. Add some finely grated orange zest if desired. Chill in fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Notes

  1. Substitute maple syrup and red pepper flakes with 2 tablespoon of Thai sweet chili sauce (or more to taste)
  2. Variations
    • Try shredded red cabbage or thinly sliced jicama in addition to fresh veggies listed in recipe.
    • Mediterranean quinoa salad: instead of the dressing in the recipe, use Italian dressing with feta cheese, a red onion and chopped olives.
    • Thai quinoa salad: make a dressing of lime, brown sugar, fish sauce, oil and cilantro.
    • For a Mexican version, toss the quinoa and veggies with black beans and a spicy salsa (instead of dressing in recipe).
    • Try adding a splash of balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar or Thai sweet chili sauce to the dressing if you like.
  3. Make Ahead:  The salad keeps well in the fridge in meal prep containers for a couple of days, making great leftovers or a perfect pot luck contribution.
 
Nutrition information is estimated for 4 side portions and does not include optional garnishes. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Healthy Vegetable Quinoa Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 271 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Sodium 860mg37%
Potassium 579mg17%
Carbohydrates 44g15%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 4062IU81%
Vitamin C 58mg70%
Calcium 69mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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