Vegan Quinoa Salad

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This Vegan Quinoa Salad is one of my favorite make-ahead lunches. I love how it’s loaded with a variety of crunchy veggies and is a complete source of plant-based protein!

vegan quinoa salad in a bowl

Benefits of Quinoa

Despite it’s reputation as a “super grain,” quinoa is not technically a grain, it’s a seed. This particular seed happens to be a complete source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that the human body can’t make on its own.

cooked quinoa in the instant pot and stove

Quinoa is also a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin B2, and manganese, which are all necessary for healthy brain function. Lately, I’ve been making quinoa in the Instant Pot to make the process 100% hands-off, but feel free to cook it on the stove, if you prefer.

A Perfect Quinoa Salad for Lunch

Combined with an assortment of fresh herbs, quality olive oil, and chopped vegetables, this salad is bursting with flavor! It’s one of my go-to recipes when I need a large salad to bring to a potluck or party, but I also make it regularly as a packed lunch.

quinoa salad ingredients

I love how the sturdy veggies hold up well in the fridge for several days, and that it’s hearty enough to keep me full for hours. You can always add in some cooked chickpeas or other beans for extra plant-based protein, too!

How to Make a Vegan Quinoa Salad

Making this vegan quinoa salad is as easy as it gets. All you need to do is cook batch of quinoa, chop some veggies, and assemble it all with a light dressing.

how to make quinoa salad

Once the quinoa is simmering away, you can multitask by stirring together the dressing in a large bowl and then chopping the veggies and adding them to that bowl as you go. By the time the quinoa is nice and fluffy, most of the effort should be done– all in less than 30 minutes!

vegan quinoa salad in a bowl
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4.72 from 14 votes

Vegan Quinoa Salad

This VEGAN QUINOA SALAD is my favorite packed lunch, loaded with plant-based protein. Easy to make with lemon juice, fresh herbs, and crunchy veggies!
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta, quinoa, salad, vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 481kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry quinoa , rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced scallions , white and green parts
  • 1 cup fresh dill , chopped
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley , chopped
  • 1 large cucumber , chopped
  • 1/2 red onion , chopped
  • 1 large red pepper , chopped
  • 10 olives, sliced (optional)
  • fine sea salt
  • fresh black pepper

Instructions

  • Cover the 2 cups of dry quinoa with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan, over high heat on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and cover for 15 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork, and allow to cool while you chop the vegetables and herbs. (Alternatively, you can cook the quinoa in the Instant Pot)
  • In the meantime, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and fresh black pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, and toss in the dressing to coat well.
  • Add in the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, red pepper, and olives, if using, and toss well to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. (I sometimes add up to 1 teaspoon more salt, to taste.)
  • Allow the mixture to marinate at least an hour before serving, or chill in the fridge overnight. This salad can be served cold or at room temperature, and should keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 481kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 933mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3405IU | Vitamin C: 87.9mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 6.3mg
Per Serving: Calories: 481, Fat: 19g, Carbohydrates: 64g, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 14g

Recipe Notes:

  • This salad is perfect for proper food combining (as a starch meal), but if you’re not vegan you can add a sprinkle of feta cheese or your favorite protein on top. My husband likes it with shrimp or chicken added.
  • If you don’t tolerate quinoa well, I imagine you could use any other grain you like, such as brown rice or millet. You could even use pasta instead, for a healthy pasta salad!

Reader Feedback: Are you a fan of pasta salads? Any favorite combinations you love?

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Comments

Kim

This looks so delicious! I will definitely be making it!

Kim

Oh I’ve made quinoa like this before while just messing around in our kitchen! It put golden raisins in it too. There were no olives and red pepper in mine though which would be awesome! I really like the way this recipe sounds can’t wait to try it!

maria

Macaroni salads are my favorite thing closest to pasta salads! How do you feel about polenta? I just discovered it recently and am curious if you have any good recipes ?

Linda Lisak

I’m looking forward to making the quinoa salad and also the frozen bananas! I’m going to make it when we get together with our 4 adult children. They enjoy eating gluten-free! Thank you!

Cel

Im definitely trying this with cali rice! Can i replace the lemon juice with vinegar?

Rachel

Have you tried sprouting quinoa before?

    Vicki R.

    Sprouting quinoa sounds interesting… what are your favorite ways to cook/serve quinoa after it has sprouted?

Amber

LOVE castlevetrano olives!! Just recently got hooked on them after hating them my entire life. Looking forward to making this one πŸ™‚

Liz

This looks great..I am huge fan of preparing pastas like this in advance and taking them in my lunch. Funny that you used quinoa in this recipe, because I was going to ask if you every use the grain-like seeds like quinoa or millet in your recipes?

Audrey

I’ve made this exact salad in the past with quinoa as I’m always looking for a “good” pasta alternative and quinoa fits the bill! Try it with some soaked raw nuts to add another layer of taste and some crunch. I’ve also added dried fruits (mango, cherries), would that keep it properly combined?

    Deborah Smith

    Sounds great about adding the nuts. How long and what kind of nuts would you use?

Jess

Delicious! I made it last night and took it to a luncheon today. It was a hit. I think I like it warm or room temp, best. It reminds me of a Greek salad (without the feta). The fresh olives are a must!

Jennifer

I made this last night and it was SO GOOD! My husband just had some of the leftovers with his breakfast, that’s how good it is! I used a quinoa/wild rice blend, which worked perfectly. I also added some crumbled feta and sliced grape tomatoes. Just so delicious, thanks Megan!

Denise

Just made this salad this morning and its very tasty! Thank you!

felisha

Just made this salad last night, and I am beyond IN LOVE with it! Cannot wait for lunch to eat this again, since the flavours had time to marry over night πŸ™‚ Thank you for the recipe!

Jo

I love pasta and love quinoa so will definitely have to try this recipe. It sounds delicious!

Jilayne

I want to make this right now! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’ve been searching for something good to bring to Easter dinner and this will be a perfect dish. Yum!

Mary McAndrew

I just made this today (yes for Easter Sunday!) and it was fabulous! I didn’t have dill and used half the salt, it was fantastic! It reminded me of tabouli, so I think adding mint would be nice.

Erica M

I made this for dinner last night, it is so good!!! I omitted the onion and olives based on personal taste. I’ve had quinoa a number of times before but never really liked how it was prepared. This is def going to be a go to recipe now! Thanks Megan!!!

Sue

I made this salad and loved it! I did notice that there were no instructions as to when to add the red onion and since there was also green onion I wasn’t sure if it was a misprint and it was supposed to be one or the other. Anyway, I left the red onion out and it still tasted magnificent. Actually, after a couple of days the onion flavor from the green onions stood out enough that I don’t think the red onion was needed.

Gina Marie

Another awesome recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a website that has had so many consistent great tasting, healthy recipes. So far I’ve made your Broccoli soup, Vegetarian Masala, Potato Salad and now this quinoa. Bravo to you Megan. All amazing recipes. I would SO buy your cookbook if you ever had one.

Ps: I tried to rate this 5 stars and it would only allow me to choose up to 4, fyi

    Megan

    Thanks! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed all the recipes so far! The cookbook is in the works. πŸ˜‰

Carolynn

This looks fabulous! Ny chance you can tell me how much sodium per serving? Just was told I need to be low sodium and would like to see if this fits in my daily regimen!

Ben Coleman

This recipe looked really interesting and I was wanting to try it. But I went in to Wal-Mart and found that 16 oz of quinoa was a$6.98. Rib eye steaks were less expensive. I’ll check Sams and Costco, but I won’t pay more for quinoa than I do for sirloin steak.

L Rehbein

SO SO DELICIOUS! I used wild rice and omitted the red pepper. My husband enjoyed this recipe as well (he is an extremely picky eater!) One of my favorite healthy recipes of all time! Thank you! 5 stars!!!

Jennifer

This has been my favorite meal this summer! I just finished making another batch. My cousin gave me a cherry pitter & I used it for the olives. Thank you for this amazing recipe you revamped πŸ™‚

Washington Cube

I made this tonight. For those of you with Trader Joes in your area, just this year they started selling pre-cooked quinoa in their frozen section. You get two packets (about a cup each) in a paper box, and I used this tonight. I added a little wild rice I had leftover from another meal. I found the Castelvetrano olives in the olive bar at a local Whole Foods (unpitted). I left them with the pits in since I won’t be feeding this to guests–yet, but I also have a cherry pitter which is a good olive tool, as well. I tasted a few spoonfuls before putting the salad in the refrigerator and to me, it is a perfect summer salad whose motif is “freshness.” I also used the tinier Persian cucumbers (which I find more flavorful,) and I purchased a pre-package of six of those at Trader Joe’s. One thing I’ve noticed about the recipes I am finding on here: so many of them are adaptable, as this one is, to adding or subtracting as you desire. I think when I have another helping of this tomorrow, I will add feta crumbles and grilled shrimp. Tiny tomatoes would also be wonderful.

Washington Cube

I forgot to add: five stars!

Stephanie

This was awesome!
My friends and I were going boating and they planned on processed meat and white bread for lunch! Not for me! I made
A batch of this ahead of time. I packed half and left half at home. My friends enjoyed it so much they were trying to fight
me for bites and were claiming the leftovers! Success! I’m converting people to our healthy eating all the time!

I added carrots, celery and some garlic powder.
I also added some spinach and baby kale. I put it into my processor to shred it small and to pack in even more vitamins!
My friends were begging me to make more!
Thanks so much!
I love your blog!

Claire

Thanks for this great recipe! I made it last week and I loved it! I had a cup a day for lunch over some wild greens. Thank you Megham and Happy Birthday to your son! Where does the time go! πŸ™‚

Jen

Costco has PITTED kalamata olives that are amazing! Red wine is part of the marinade.

Sarah

I’ve made sooo many of your recipes but I don’t think I’ve ever commented! Made this tonight for the first time and we LOVED it!

    Vicki Smith

    Any idea how much already cooked quinoa to use? I have a bunch of plain cooked quinoa in my fridge!

      Megan Gilmore

      My best guess is that 1 cup of dry quinoa equals roughly 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

Megan

So delicious! The first time I’ve had quinoa and actually enjoyed it!

Amy

Oh Megan…there are too many good options on this site to make for meal preps I’m always so overwhelmed!! I also own your cookbook which makes things even harder. I keep going back to it thinking “oh I need to make THIS or THAT because it’s a little gem not found online.” My mind is always changing with what I am going to make from your recipes. Okay I plan on making this dish on Sunday to take for work lunches all week however I also have a head of cauliflower I was saving to make your “fried rice” so now I’m stumped! Should I do a pizza crust, garlic fingers, mashed “potatoes,” stay with the rice option? SO MANY CHOICES AGHHHHHH lol

Caren

Hi Megan,
Thank you for this amazing recipe! I used whole wheat orzo pasta and added a can of garbanzo beans and a can of artichoke hearts. It was soooo good!

Megan

This is my all time favorite way to eat quinoa! I’ve made this many times and love it so much each time. Even my 2 year old loves it. All the fresh ingredients are very refreshing. Just wanted to comment and say thanks.

Liz M

This is very similar to the Greek Quinoa Salad I made this weekend. I used cucumber, cherry tomatoes, onions, scallions, and olives. This sounds even better with the red pepper and parsley!

Cara

I really love this quinoa salad!! It is so fresh and delicious! It’s great for a healthy and nutritious lunch idea. Now that I have an Instant Pot I will be making my quinoa in it while prepping the veggies and dressing. Try this!!

Jennifer

Wow, I can’t get over how much flavor this salad packs! It’s so easy to make, and I just keep going back for more. I’m not vegan, so I have been adding a little feta cheese on top, but it doesn’t need it. So good! Thanks for another favorite.

Holly

I’ve been eating this for lunch all week long. SO good! I made it just as written this week, but I’ve added beans to it before, too, and it’s good either way.

gloria

This was easy and so yummy! I’m not a vegan but need something to bring to a gathering that everyone could eat. This is definitely becoming a staple in my weekly meals. Thanks!

JENNIFER

Did you change this recipe because it’s not the same…

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