Quinoa Salad with chickpeas and feta is a feel-good (and taste-good) meal! Quinoa with the best fresh dressing, tossed with nutritious and flavorful ingredients, like arugula, fresh herbs, roasted red peppers, and toasted nuts, it’s my go-to side for potlucks. You can enjoy it with chicken on or its own light and filling vegetarian meal.
This quinoa salad has it going ON!
You can enjoy it so many different ways.
- 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, or scoop it up with Homemade Naan.
- Snarf it all on its own. Quinoa is protein-packed, making it filling.
Grain bowls sound trendy and expensive, but they are quick and affordable to mix up at home. Plus, you can customize them anyway you like!
Grab a bowl and let’s get ready to toss.
Once you know how to properly cook and flavor quinoa, you’ll be on the quinoa bandwagon for life. Just look at all these quinoa recipes!
Quinoa is described as a “superfood” for a reason, as it is:
- Packed with fiber and protein (one cup cooked quinoa provides about 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein)
- Considered a “complete” protein, meaning it has all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own
- Loaded with vitamins, like magnesium, potassium, iron, and folate
- Gluten-free super grain.
Here is my method for perfectly-cooked quinoa:
- Rinse first. This removes the powdery coating that could make it taste bitter.
- Bring to a boil along with the water. Place water AND quinoa in a saucepan and then simmer.
- Simmer uncovered. Cook the quinoa with the lid off the pan.
- Let sit covered. After it’s done cooking, remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Fluff and serve!
For more details on how to cook quinoa, check out How to Cook Quinoa.
How to Make Quinoa Salad
Quinoa salad can be served cold or room temperature, so it’s a great dish to take to-go.
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.
This healthy meal comes together in 30 minutes.
- 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 extra nutrients to this dish 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.
Pouring the dressing over the quinoa while it is still warm helps the grains drink up its flavors.
- 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.
- Cook quinoa.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- In a large bowl, stir three-fourths of the dressing into the warm quinoa.
- Stir in the arugula, chickpeas, bell pepper, and three-fourths each of the almonds and goat cheese, and add more dressing as desired.
- Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese and nuts over the top. Let sit for 10 minutes, and ENJOY!
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:
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 1 week.
Meal Prep Tip
Quinoa salad tastes great leftover and is a perfect recipe for meal prep; make a big batch and then enjoy it for lunch all week!
What to Serve with Quinoa Salad
- Small Whisk. I prefer this 9″ whisk over a standard full-size one 99% of the time; it’s easy to maneuver.
- Salad Bowl. Serve in the same beautiful bowl you mixed the salad in.
- Chef’s Knife. Dare I say, the most important tool for any kitchen.
Bring the whole food vibes home with this easy quinoa salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
Quinoa is gluten-free, protein-rich carbohydrate that is also considered a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. It’s actually a seed (cereal grains like wheat and oats come from grasses), but it is often referred to as a grain, as this is how we cook and eat it. If you want to get extra technical, it’s a pseudo-cereal.
Quinoa has twice the amount of protein as white rice as well as more fiber; however, long grain brown rice is another healthy choice for a filling salad addition and healthy whole grain. See How to Cook Brown Rice and Instant Pot Brown Rice.
Lightly nutty in flavor on its own, quinoa is a versatile ingredient to season in a variety of ways, from sweet Red, White, and Blue Quinoa Salad to spicy Mexican Street Corn Quinoa Salad. Cooking your quinoa in a quality stock rather than water is an easy way to add more flavor to the quinoa.
Red quinoa has a stronger, nuttier flavor compared to the more common white quinoa variety. Note that red quinoa can take a few minutes longer to cook and results in a heartier, chewier texture.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup tightly packed baby arugula optional
- 1/4 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)
- 3/4 cup slivered sliced, or roughly chopped toasted almonds, chopped toasted pecans, or roasted pistachios*, divided
- 3/4 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 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