Quinoa Salad – WellPlated.com

Quinoa Salad with chickpeas and feta is a feel-good (and taste-good) meal! Fluffy quinoa is tossed with flavorful ingredients like arugula, fresh herbs, roasted red peppers, and toasted nuts, all in a zippy Mediterranean-inspired dressing. Chickpeas add some extra protein too!

  • Fresh, Fabulous Mediterranean Flavors. After the quinoa is cooked, it’s tossed in the best dressing: a flavorful combination of zippy, fresh lemon juice, smoky paprika, and olive oil. Arugula is peppery, roasted red peppers add sweetness, and feta brings some salty goodness.
  • So Many Ways to Enjoy It. Quinoa salad pairs well with grilled mains, making it one of the best potluck sides. You can divvy up portions with Baked Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Tofu for meal prep lunches, tuck it inside a pita, scoop it up with Homemade Naan, or eat it on its own.
  • Easy to Make and Serve. This healthy meal comes together in 30 minutes, and quinoa salad can be served cold or room temperature, so it’s a great dish to take on-the-go.
seriously quinoa salad in a large bowl

5 Star Review

“I made this quinoa salad yesterday and it is delicious!”

— Susan —

How to Make Quinoa Salad

The Ingredients

  • Quinoa. Though technically a seed, quinoa is classified as a whole grain; it’s healthy and filling.
  • Arugula. Optional, but a great way to add more flavor and make it more salad-like.
  • Chickpeas. Chickpeas are a perfect companion to any fresh salad, like this Moroccan Chickpea Salad and Mediterranean Chickpea Salad.
  • Roasted Red Peppers. My secret ingredient to make this quinoa salad anything but flavorless. You can make Roasted Red Peppers from scratch, or use the kind in the jar.
  • Nuts. The nuts add a delightful crunch and make the salad more satisfying. Almonds, pecans, or pistachios would all be tasty. 
  • Cheese. Goat cheese or feta cheese add creaminess and pops of tang. You can omit them to make the quinoa salad vegan.
  • Lemon Juice. For the salad dressing.
  • Smoked Paprika. A powerhouse ingredient for delivering a bang of flavor to the quinoa salad dressing.
  • Fresh Herbs. Use your favorite combination of parsley, basil, or dill.

The Directions

how to cook quinoa for quinoa salad
  1. Cook Quinoa. Fluff it up when it’s done cooking.
quinoa salad dressing
  1. Make the Dressing. Whisk together the dressing ingredients; I like to use a liquid measuring cup because it makes pouring easier.
quinoa for quinoa salad
  1. Dress the Quinoa. In a large bowl, stir three-fourths of the dressing into the warm quinoa.
toppings for quinoa salad recipe
  1. Add the Mix-Ins. Stir in the arugula, chickpeas, bell pepper, and three-fourths each of the almonds and goat cheese, and add more dressing as desired.
zesty quinoa salad with greens
  1. Finish. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese and nuts over the top. Let sit for 10 minutes, and ENJOY!
quinoa salad with feta

Add More Protein to Quinoa Salad

While this vegetarian quinoa salad is plenty filling on its own, feel free to throw on an additional protein:

easy and quick quinoa salad

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Toast Your Nuts. This step makes a HUGE difference in flavor. You can do it on the stovetop over medium heat or on a sheet pan in the oven as described below. (Just keep a close eye on the nuts so they don’t burn!)
  • Dress the Quinoa While It’s Warm. Pouring the dressing over the quinoa while it is still warm helps the grains drink up its flavors.
  • Cook the Quinoa Properly. Here’s how to cook quinoa, but the tl;dr is: rinse it first, bring it to a boil with the water, cook it uncovered, then cover it after it’s done cooking and the remaining liquid will absorb.
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup tightly packed baby arugula optional
  • ¼ cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley basil, dill, or other soft, tender herbs (or a mix!)
  • 1 can reduced sodium chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ cup slivered sliced, or roughly chopped toasted almonds, chopped toasted pecans, or roasted pistachios*, divided
  • ¾ cups crumbled goat cheese or feta about 4 ounces, divided

  • Rinse and drain the quinoa well (this removes the sometimes bitter taste). Place in a medium saucepan with the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water, is tender (but not mushy), and you see the little spiral poking out of each grain, about 15 minutes. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool.

  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout, stir together the oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spoon about two-thirds over the quinoa while the quinoa is still a little warm. Stir to combine.

  • Add the arugula, chickpeas, bell pepper, and three-fourths each of the almonds and goat cheese. Taste and stir in a few more spoonfuls of dressing as desired.

  • Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over the top. If time allows, let sit 10 minutes for the flavors to absorb, or refrigerate for 4 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*TO ROAST NUTS: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts into a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the nuts smell fragrant and toasty and they are crisp. Immediately transfer to a cutting board to cool.

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 1 week.

Serving: 1of 6Calories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 12gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 13mgPotassium: 320mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 784IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 105mgIron: 3mg

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