This vegan quinoa salad is a healthy, one-bowl meal complete with vegetables, grains, and lots of nuts and seeds. With a simple lemon salad dressing, this salad recipe makes a light and refreshing summer lunch. I use a mix of crunchy and soft vegetables and a generous sprinkling of seeds and nuts.
More than just a side-dish, salads often take center stage on our summer lunch menus. In summers, Sikander’s usual packed lunch is a salad with one grain tossed with many veggies, a light dressing and some nuts and seeds. He is gluten sensitive so I avoid the regular pasta salads for his tiffin now. Quinoa is one of my favorite grain for salads these days. It is gluten-free, whole grain and packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Not only for salads, quinoa is a good rice alternative in fried rice recipe as well.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
- Quinoa is a complete protein. It contains all the 9 essential amino acids.
- Quinoa has more than twice the amount of dietary fibre than most grains. For example, 100g of cooked white rice has 0.3g of fibre, cooked couscous and pasta has 1g fibre while cooked quinoa has 2.7g of fibre.
- Quinoa has complex carbohydrates which are a good source of energy and also filling as they are digested slowly by the body.
I love the flexibility of salads. I always try to add many colorful seasonal vegetables to my salads like this raw vegetable salad. Not only do they make the salad look beautiful, different color vegetables provide different minerals to the body.
This salad can easily be made the evening before for packed lunches in the morning. But start to end, the recipe just takes about 15-20 minutes so is also perfect for early morning cooking. The only cooking required is for the quinoa.
How to cook quinoa
Quinoa cooks the same way as white rice. Two parts water to one part quinoa. Cook with a little salt and oil till the grain absorbs all oi. You don’t need to soak quinoa but it is recommended to wash them as it helps rinse out the naturally occurring saponins in Quinoa. Saponins are the natural coating on quinoa seeds. They have a slightly bitter and/or soapy flavor so rinsing before use is good.
Treat this recipe more like a guide. There are no wrong combinations for this salad so let your creativity go wild. You can add just about anything to make your own best quinoa salad! :-). I just make sure there are some crunchy and some soft veggies. A good balance is about 4 cups of chopped veggies with 1 cup of cooked quinoa.
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Easy Vegan Quinoa Salad
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- ½ cup white quinoa (or use any other variety)
- ½ cup red bell pepper , chopped
- ½ cup yellow bell pepper , chopped
- 2 carrots , peeled and chopped
- 1 zucchini , chopped
- ½ cup mix of baby spinach and arugula leaves
- 4-5 sprigs parsley , chopped
- 1 lemon , juice and zest
- Salt , to taste
- Black pepper , to taste
- 2 tbsp seeds mix (I used a mix of chia, sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin seeds)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and wash quinoa under running water.
- Heat 1 cup water in a pot, add the washed quinoa, a little salt and just a tsp of olive oil. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the quinoa cook covered until the grain has absorbed all the water. Takes about 10 minutes.
- When the quinoa is cooked, fluff it with a fork and keep it aside to cool a little. When I am in a hurry, I often put them in the fridge after they have cooled down to room temperature.
- While the quinoa is cooking, chop all the veggies in small cubes.
- In a mixing bowl, toss together all the veggies, cooked quinoa, spinach leaves, arugula leaves, parsley, seeds, lemon zest, juice and salt, and pepper.
- Pack in lunch boxes. Makes about 2 generous serving lunch boxes or 3 lighter lunches.
- Keep it in a cool place until lunch time.
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