This vegan quinoa salad is hearty enough that you can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also a wonderful side to bring to potlucks and barbecues.
Cutting back on meat forces you to get a little more creative with your diet. Quinoa has become one of our favorite discoveries, and not just for its exotic name (pronounced KEEN-wah – you may need to say it a few times to make it stick). Quinoa is a grain-like seed that’s packed with protein. And for those of you who ponder these things, it’s also one of the few complete proteins that come from a plant.
What’s more interesting is that it’s one of those foods that is both good for you and tastes great! I love the fluffy texture, and the fact that it cooks relatively quickly (about 20 minutes). It’s a great alternative to rice for a stir-fry and is a perfect side to any meal. It also happens to be gluten-free – a bonus if that’s relevant for you.
Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes
This vegan quinoa salad was my adaptation of a similar idea I saw in Food & Wine, with a few tweaks and the addition of chickpeas and spinach to be a more complete meal. I loved the crunch of the pumpkin seeds, and the white wine vinaigrette was the perfect combination with quinoa. It was relatively easy and a great weeknight meal.
When making this vegan quinoa salad, make sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa is naturally coated with a substance called saponin, which is quite bitter in flavor (some think saponin is an evolutionary defense against birds that would otherwise enjoy snacking on wild quinoa). Luckily, this bitter coating is easily removed by running the quinoa under water for a minute or two until the water runs clear. We’ve forgotten to rinse quinoa before, and it’s still fine to eat. You just might have to add some extra seasoning to mask the slightly bitter taste!
This quinoa spinach salad is hearty enough that you can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also a wonderful side to bring to potlucks and barbecues. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, but I especially like it with a good veggie burger. If you’re making this salad ahead of time, I’d suggest leaving the spinach and pumpkin seeds out of the mixture until you’re ready to serve. Everything else can be tossed together ahead of time to soak up the delicious vinaigrette.
Looking for more vegetarian quinoa recipes?
- Artichoke and Quinoa Vegetarian Enchiladas
- Veggie Packed Quinoa Fried Rice
- Greek Sofrito Quinoa Bowl
- Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan.Print
This quinoa spinach salad is hearty enough that you can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also a wonderful side to bring to potlucks and barbecues.
- 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
- 3 green onions
- 1/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Spinach leaves, for serving
- Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until all water has evaporated, around 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature – you can speed up this process by spreading it in a thin layer on a large plate or tray, or make the quinoa ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, bring some salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the snap peas and simmer for about 1 minute, until bright green. Drain and spread on a large plate to cool. Then cut the peas on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces.
- Slice 3 green onions, using both the white and green portions. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine quinoa, snap peas, green onions, chickpeas, and vinegar and oil mixture. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a bed of spinach, and top with pumpkin seeds. (You also can mix in the pumpkin seeds, but usually I find that mixing nuts and seeds with dressing makes them soggy if there are leftovers. I usually use them as a garnish instead.)
We found it helpful to make the quinoa ahead and place it in a resealable container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Healthy
Keywords: vegan quinoa salad
About the Authors
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 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.