Quinoa Bean Salad with Lemon

This quinoa bean salad is a zesty and refreshing side dish, a mix of quinoa with white beans, radishes, spinach, and lemon zest.

Quinoa bean salad with lemon

Stress was the topic of Alex and my conversation today. Why is it that some people carry so much stress in life, whereas others seem to be content no matter what the circumstance? I used to be one of those stressed people. I was stressed about my job, family relationships, friend relationships; worried that I wasn’t measuring up. I internalized the stress of those around me, and felt like I was constantly falling behind, fearful I’d accidentally drop the ball by forgetting my mom’s birthday or not returning a client’s email. Keep reading for more on stress management and this tangy quinoa bean salad recipe.

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

Stress management

Somewhere in the past few years, Alex and I decided to reverse the stress trend. One of our inspirations was a wise saying from a friend that “the opposite of entitlement is gratitude“. Instead of being stressed about our work, why not be thankful that our jobs provide a means for keeping us alive? Instead of complaining about a person or situation, why not focus on words that build up instead of put down?

The more we thought on the positive, the more stress seemed to drain out of our lives. While this philosophy doesn’t eliminate stress overnight, it’s a practice that brings gratitude and abundance.
So today, I was grateful to be able to create this lemony quinoa bean salad.

Quinoa bean salad with lemon

How to make quinoa bean salad

With spring radishes and spinach, quinoa and zesty lemon, this quinoa bean salad tastes delightfully fresh. The only part of this salad that requires any technique is cooking the quinoa! Otherwise it’s just slicing spinach, green onions and radishes, and adding olive oil, white wine vinegar, and lemon zest.

Over the years, Alex and I have messed up quinoa numerous times: cook it too fast and it’s hard and crunchy, or overcook it and it’s mushy. Cooking quinoa is not a simple matter! Here are our two best methods for how to cook quinoa:

  1. Perfect Quinoa on the Stovetop This is our master recipe for cooking quinoa on the stovetop. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes, and it requires a little baby sitting to make sure the liquid is cooking out evenly, but it’s mostly hands off.
  2. Instant Pot Quinoa (Pressure Cooker) If you have a pressure cooker, you can use it to make quinoa! It takes about 16 minutes and is almost totally hands off! This is the method we’ve started to use more often, since we have an Instant Pot. (Here’s the Instant Pot we use)

How to serve quinoa bean salad

This quinoa bean salad turns out fluffy and tangy from the vinegar and lemon zest. It’s perfect especially for spring because of the radishes, lemon and white beans, but it can be served in many seasons. We served it as a light dinner with greens and bread, but it would also be great at a potluck or pitch in!

Looking for salad recipes?

Outside of this quinoa bean salad, here are a few favorite salad recipes:

This quinoa bean salad recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Quinoa Bean Salad with Lemon

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


This quinoa bean salad is a zesty and refreshing side dish, a mix of quinoa with white beans, radishes, spinach, and lemon zest.


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 1 handful fresh mint or basil (optional)
  • 6 to 8 radishes
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 1/2 cans white beans (or 2 1/4 cups cooked)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Chopped walnuts or pepitas (optional)


  1. Cook the quinoa using the Perfect quinoa or Instant Pot quinoa method (see the video below!). 
  2. Meanwhile, chop or thinly slice (chiffonade) the spinach and mint or basil leaves, if using. Thinly slice the radishes and green onions. Drain and rinse the white beans. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the olive oil, white wine vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix to combine.
  3. When the quinoa is done, let it cool to room temperature. To quickly cool it, spread quinoa in a thin layer on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan and it will cool in a few minutes.
  4. Mix the quinoa with the vegetables, then add the zest of 1 lemon. Immediately prior to serving, squeeze on the juice of 1 lemon. If desired, serve topped with chopped walnuts or pepitas for some crunch. *Note: If making ahead, add the lemon and nuts immediately prior to serving; the same is true when storing leftovers.
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Quinoa Bean Salad, Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Recipes, Side Salad, Healthy Salad Recipes,

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    May 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I am a victim of stress, it is ingrained into me!! Lately though I have been trying to just think positive!
    Love this salad! So healthy and the perfect summer meal!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I needed these wise words this week! Beautiful thought and salad.

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    May 8, 2013 at 12:27 am

    The more we focus on being positive, the lesser stress we take. And I’d start by saying that’s a delicious and pretty plate of salad :)

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Wow, I love the idea of focusing on words that “build up” instead of complaining. Complaining is such a toxic habit, but trying to encourage and praise are such powerful antidotes for that. Thanks!

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Yes, thank you! We’ve seen a shift in our life when using positive words instead of complaining. It seems like complaining would make one feel better, but usually it’s the opposite! Thanks for this.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Some of us are ‘programmed’ to worry/stress more, yet it is AMAZING how incredibly powerful our minds are when we determine to do something! People can actually teach themselves (and ‘rewire’ their brains in the process) to be optimistic and stress less. Powerful stuff! Your idea of living gratitude is one of they ways to do that… (Man, I knew that master’s-level brain research class would come in handy one of these day ;) hahaha!)

    Beautiful dish. So light!

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Wow, I didn’t realize there was science backing this up — how cool! Thanks for sharing (and for taking that brain research class!) :)

  • Reply
    Michelle R
    May 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

    How powerful gratitude and positive thinking can be. I’m glad you are sharing your story, because many people don’t realize how much better your body feels with this kind of thinking. There is way to much stress in the world today.

    The recipe looks delicious, can’t wait to try.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Nice post! I think my husband and I are opposites in the stress department- I’m the chronic worrier and tend to freak out when there’s not enough money; he’s more relaxed about it and trusts that everything will work out. Maybe I’ll find that balance someday!

    I love white beans and quinoa. What a simple, tasty salad!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Ooooh! Mother’s Day dinner complete? Thank you for your words on stress, and keep up the positive energy!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I learned some basic tenets in sales training that I’m applying to all areas of my life. They are: abundance, allowing, high intent, reasoning and detachment. Using these tenets has changed my life!

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Wow, interesting! I love these — a great way to live!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Such a lovely post. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for the recipe and for the wise thoughts about gratitude versus entitlement. A simple lesson that can make one’s daily journey a more positive experience.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Loved this post. I definitely used to be a “stresser” and a worrier myself, but something shifted in the past 2 years or so, and I rarely feel stress, guilt or worry anymore at all. I wish I knew what changed, but mostly it was just my attitude :) As YOU wel know, some of our mutual acquaintances could do well to make that shift themselves ;)

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Wonderful, Erin! This is so encouraging, especially to know that as a mother you experienced this (since there is even more opportunity to worry with other little people relying on you!). So cool!

  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    This looks fantastic! I love how versatile quinoa can be. Also, so true about making the conscious choice to be thankful!

  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I was just sitting here trying to find some gluten-free recipes to try with my daughter as we were just told to try eliminating it from her diet for a while. I just thought about quinoa when suddenly your recipe popped up on my FB wall. Looks fantastic!

  • Reply
    Rachel Cooks
    May 10, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Great post! I read someone’s post once that said “I’m stressed because I’m so stressed.” Definitely a good thing to break free of. Loving this quinoa–I bet the creamy white beans and crispy radish are perfect together. Pinning!

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      Haha! Yes, I must say I’ve been there too :) Glad to be moving forward with the intention to break free.

  • Reply
    Linda from NJ
    May 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

    This looks good! I’m kinda getting burned out on the quinoa salad I’ve been making and will make this one next. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    What a wonderful post! I will be sure to put this recipe into safe keeping for my radishes will soon be ready for the picking and (up until now) I wasn’t sure what I would do with them! Thank you.

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      You’re very welcome! I hope it was enjoyable!

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