Powerhouse Quinoa Salad – This powerhouse quinoa salad is PACKED with nutrients and flavor. Perfect for days you need your lunch (or dinner) to go to bat for you!
Originally posted May 2012. Post and photos updated + video added Sept. 2017. Post contains affiliate links which never ever changes any price you pay for a product.
I talked about this a bit in my meal planning post, but one of the easiest ways I know to eat well is to have a few things pre-made (or the components prepped) ahead of time. I don’t hit every breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack throughout the week with meal prep, but I’ve found that picking just a few things to focus on frees up time and energy for other work during the week.
I often work on prepping my breakfasts and lunches. This might mean cutting up veggies for salad fixings, or making a yummy dip that I can use with veggies or to make wraps or sandwiches.
One of my FAVORITE things to have on hand is an awesome quinoa salad. They store like a dream and are substantial enough to keep me full and satisfied. This powerhouse quinoa salad is no exception. It truly is a nutrient powerhouse–packed with nutrient-dense superfoods and plenty of goodies to keep me going! Plus, it’s gluten free and vegan, to boot!
I cook a simple batch of quinoa (this is my favorite way to cook quinoa), then just start adding goodies. This one has kind of a fall slant, with a few kinds of apples and that cozy dressing to tie things together. For extra color, you can use red quinoa or tri-color quinoa. I used white this time. They’re all whole grain and absolutely delicious.
The texture contrast here is amazing. The quinoa is tender and light, the nuts nice and toasty, the apples and celery fresh and crisp, and all that goodness is brought together by a little balsamic dressing. It makes for a hearty, satisfying lunch or light dinner or a terrific side dish for potlucks and parties. Plus, you can see from the notes section, there are SO many ways to change it up!
Notes on the Recipe:
Try adding this! This is a really flexible salad, so you can absolutely stir in some cooked chicken or crumbled bacon (obviously not vegan/vegetarian), a drained and rinsed can of white beans, or even a little cheese if you like. (Before we went dairy free, I loved using a little cotija or feta cheese.)
How to store it… If you’re making this ahead of time, it’ll keep fully assembled for about 3-4 days. The apples and spinach will start to lose a little texture after that. To prevent this, you can make them mason jar style, where you pour dressing into the bottom of the jar, then the apples/celery, quinoa, greens, cranberries, and nuts.
Love that dressing. I love the dressing in this salad. It’s got so much flavor and really complements the other flavors of the salad. This is just enough dressing to coat the salad without being soggy. If you like more dressing, feel free to double the dressing!
Other Quinoa Salads to Love…
- Confetti Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
- My Big Fat Greek Quinoa Salad
- Spring Roll Quinoa Salad
- Sun Dried Tomato Quinoa
- 3 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
- 1-2 apples, cored and diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 1-2c loosely packed spinach leaves, torn
- ½c dried cranberries or dried cherries
- ½c toasted walnuts or pecans
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1½ Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
- 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Prepare the quinoa. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Add rinsed quinoa and 3 cups of water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, toss quinoa, apples, celery, spinach leaves, cranberries, walnuts, and cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa salad mixture and toss to coat. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Toss salad with dressing.
How to store it... If you're making this ahead of time, it'll keep fully assembled for about 3-4 days. The apples and spinach will start to lose a little texture after that. To prevent this, you can make them mason jar style, where you pour dressing into the bottom of the jar, then the apples/celery, quinoa, greens, cranberries, and nuts.
Love that dressing. I love the dressing in this salad. It's got so much flavor and really complements the other flavors of the salad. This is just enough dressing to coat the salad without being soggy. If you like more dressing, feel free to double the dressing!