A healthy quinoa spinach salad with juicy tomatoes, crunchy almonds, and tangy lemon dressing. This is the best 30 minutes plant-based salad recipe for a light lunch or summer BBQ. This quinoa salad recipe is also gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free.
What is a quinoa salad?
A quinoa salad is a healthy gluten-free salad made of cooked quinoa and raw vegetables. Quinoa is high in plant-based proteins and fiber, making it a healthy grain for fulfilling, low Glycemic Index salads and perfect for diabetic lunches.
How to use quinoa in a salad?
You use quinoa in salads like you will use any others grains like pasta or rice. First, cook the quinoa, following my quinoa cooking instructions below.
Then, cool down the quinoa and add the lukewarm or cold quinoa into the remaining ingredients from the salad to create a high-protein salad recipe.
How to make a quinoa spinach salad?
It’s very easy to make a quinoa spinach salad for lunch or as a side dish. All you need are a few ingredients and only 30 minutes to assemble this healthy salad recipe.
First, gather all the ingredients you need to make this easy quinoa spinach salad:
- Quinoa – cook your quinoa following the instructions provided on your brand packaging or the instructions provided in the recipe card below. You can use leftover cooked quinoa as well. The recipe provides both uncooked and cooked quinoa amounts.
- Baby spinach leaves
- Tomatoes – or cherry tomatoes for a sweeter taste.
- Cucumber – skin on, diced.
- Almonds – roughly chopped. You can use any nuts and seeds you love, like pine nuts, walnuts, pecans.
Cook the quinoa: how to cook quinoa for a salad?
First, rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water. This removes the bitterness of the grain.
Next, add the quinoa into a large saucepan with cold water, cover the saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until quinoa has absorbed most of the water – between 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and steam for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. If liquid remains in the saucepan, drain the quinoa over a sieve.
Season with salt and pepper, then cool at room temperature before adding the quinoa salad recipe.
While the quinoa is cooling down, prepare the vegetables. First, chop the cucumber into small cubes, skin on or off.
We love keeping the skin on to add fiber to the recipe, but you can peel off the cucumber skin if you don’t appreciate its texture.
Then, cut the tomatoes into quarters.
Finally, roughly chop the baby spinach leaves.
Place all the vegetables aside in a large mixing bowl while you prepare the lemon dressing.
This vegan quinoa salad is delicious with its lemon dressing.
Ingredients for dressing
- Extra-virgin olive oil – that’s the best low saturated fat for salads with a lovely flavor. You can also use avocado oil if preferred.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Italian flat parsley – finely chopped. Other herbs that go well in this vegan quinoa salad recipe are cilantro and mint.
- Garlic powder – optional, don’t add for low FODMAP.
To make your lemon dressing, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Then, stir in finely chopped Italian flat parsley or fresh herb you love.
Assemble the quinoa salad
To assemble the salad, place all the ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in the lemon dressing to evenly cover all the vegetables and serve immediately.
What to add to quinoa salad?
This spinach quinoa salad recipe is naturally low FODMAP, so it doesn’t use onion, garlic, or dried fruits in the salad or dressing.
However, feel free to add some of the toppings below in this quinoa and spinach salad:
- Dried fruits – cranberries go very well with spinach and quinoa.
- Red onion – finely chopped.
- Red pepper – finely diced.
- Avocado – diced.
What to serve with your salad?
This spinach and quinoa salad is a fulfilling lunch on its own for a light summer lunch:
- Protein – Quinoa is a complete plant-based protein as it contains all the essential amino acids you need on a vegan diet.
- Healthy fats – olive oil and almonds add a great balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Both are important fat for cell membranes and inflammatory responses.
- Fibers, vitamins, and nutrients – baby spinach, tomatoes, and cucumber add all the 3 essentials to make this vegan salad complete.
Of course, this quinoa salad is also a great side dish to bring to summer BBQ and match very well any grilled plant-based meat, tofu steak, and more!
Can I swap quinoa for other grains?
Sure, you can swap quinoa for many other cooked gluten-free grains like:
- Brown rice
- Buckwheat groats
Or non-gluten-free cooked grains like:
- Wheat pasta
More salad recipes
Below I listed a few more vegan salad recipes for you to try and serve as a light lunch or vegan side dish.
Have you made this quinoa spinach salad? Share a comment or review below. I love to hear back from you!
Your friend, Carine
Quinoa Spinach Salad
- ¾ cup Uncooked quinoa - equivalent to 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 ½ cup Cold Water - to cook quinoa
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 3 cups Baby Spinach Leaves - roughly chopped
- 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes - cut into quarters
- ½ cup Cucumber - diced, skin on
- 3 tablespoons Almonds - chopped
Cook quinoa for salad
- First, rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water. This removes the bitterness of the grain.
- Add the quinoa into a large saucepan with 1 1/2 cup cold water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until quinoa has absorbed most of the water - between 10 to 15 minutes. Check and test. Some quinoa cooks faster than others.
- Remove the pot from heat, keep the lid on and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. If liquid remains in the saucepan, drain the quinoa over a sieve.
- Season quinoa with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper if you like, and let it cool down while preparing the salad.
- Roughly chop the baby spinach leaves, cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters, and dice the cucumber, skin on, chop almonds roughly.
- In a large salad bowl, add chopped baby spinach, quinoa at room temperature or cold, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and chopped almonds.
- Stir the ingredients together and set aside in the fridge while preparing the lemon dressing.
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in chopped parsley.
- Stir the dressing evenly into the salad to make sure all the ingredients are covered and flavored with the lemon dressing. If you intend to serve a single serving of salad, serve the dressing on the side and drizzle individually on each plate.
- Store up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, if not seasoned with dressing. Store for up to 24 hours in the fridge if the dressing has been added. Store the dressing in a sealed glass mason jar in the fridge.