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This cold Vegan Quinoa Salad is going to quickly become one of your favorite go-to lunch preps! It’s quick, filling, and packed with plant-based nutrition that will leave you feeling satisfied and healthy. All you need is 7 ingredients, plus a homemade spicy dressing!
Key Components of a Good, Hearty Salad
We wanted to share a new salad on the blog that was hearty enough to enjoy as a complete meal or main dish, yet simple enough to throw together on a Sunday night for easy vegan meal prep or a quick weeknight dinner.
When building a hearty salad, you always want to include plant-based protein, fresh vegetables, carbs, healthy fats, and a delicious dressing to tie it all together. Quinoa alone is a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids. It’s a hearty superfood that is a great base for any vegan salad!
If you’re looking for more information on enjoying a balanced, nutrition-packed plant-based diet, check out these helpful posts: Common Vegan Nutrition Myths Debunked and Essential Supplements on a Vegan Diet.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Quinoa: Either white quinoa, red quinoa, or tricolor quinoa will work well here. Each type of quinoa is similar in nutritional information and is high in protein.
- Red bell pepper: Use store-bought roasted red peppers or homemade roasted red bell peppers. If you’d like to make roasted peppers from scratch, try this simple roasted red peppers recipe, or use our method from our Roasted Red Pepper pasta!
- Red onion: Adds crunchiness, brightness, and pungent flavor. If you’d like a milder bite, Take the Bite Out of Raw Onions with This One Simple Step.
- Corn: Roasted corn kernels will add additional flavor, but you can use fresh or frozen corn in a pinch, too! Learn How to Grill Corn in the Husk for ultimate flavor!
- Herbs: We love using fresh parsley or fresh cilantro. Choose your favorite, or switch it up and use another fresh herb of choice.
- Beans: Red kidney beans are creamy, high in protein, and absolutely delicious in cold salads. Black beans or chickpeas would be another great choice.
- Vegan feta cheese: Adds tangy, creaminess to the salad that ties all the flavors together. We love making homemade vegan feta cheese, but you can also find it from vegan brands such as Violife, Follow Your Heart, or Trader Joe’s.
- Dressing: We made a homemade dressing made with hot sauce and acidic flavors like red wine vinegar and lime juice. It’s simple to make and perfectly ties the flavor combinations in this vegan quinoa salad together.
Add-ins and Variations
- Add extra protein: This salad is naturally high in protein thanks to the quinoa and kidney beans, but if you’re looking to make it even more filling, you can add things like Easy Crispy Tofu, Homemade Tempeh Bacon, or Crispy Air Fryer Herbed Tofu.
- Salad dressing substitutions: We love the simple spiciness in our homemade dressing, but if you’re looking to switch up the dressing, choose one of our other favorites: Italian Dressing, Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette, 5-Minute Tahini Dressing, Vegan Ranch Dressing, or The Best Vegan Caesar Dressing.
- Grain variations: Quinoa is quick cooking and naturally high in protein, but if you’d like to swap the quinoa for another grain, farro, couscous, or bulgur wheat are great plant-based alternatives.
- Use your favorite fresh veggies: If you love spice, swap the roasted red peppers for a mild pepper, such as roasted poblanos or Anaheim peppers. You can also use any other flavorful, crunchy vegetable, such as fresh cucumber, diced zucchini, diced Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or diced sweet potatoes.
- Add leafy greens: If you want to make this salad more traditional, you can serve it on a bed of your favorite greens such as fresh spinach, kale, or arugula. You can even add finely cut fresh green or red cabbage for a hearty crunch!
How to Make Vegan Quinoa Salad
- Cook the quinoa. Rinse the uncooked quinoa in a fine sieve until the water runs clear. Transfer to a pot and add either 2 cups of water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for another 10 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
- Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl or glass jar, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, agave, hot sauce, garlic, salt and black pepper together.
- Toss together the salad ingredients. Place the cooled, fluffy quinoa, diced red peppers, red onion, corn, fresh herbs, kidney beans, and feta cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until uniform.
- Season and serve. Adjust the seasonings to taste, then serve the vegan quinoa salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to enjoy!
Serving and Meal Prep Options
This high-protein salad can be served as a hearty lunch or dinner main or even a wholesome snack. It’s a wholesome meal that is perfect for hot summer nights or a healthy lunch prep. Serve with Homemade Tortilla Chips (No Oil Added), Restaurant-Style Salsa and Easy Homemade Guacamole.
To meal prep, separate the salad into individual containers or mason jars and keep the salad dressing on the side until ready to serve.
Leftover quinoa salad will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
This salad is meant to be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled, however, if you prefer to eat your salad lightly warmed, we’d recommend storing the additional salad ingredients and dressing separate from the quinoa. Warm the quinoa in the microwave with 1 tablespoon water to fluff up again, then toss the quinoa salad ingredients with the warm quinoa.
More Ways to Use Quinoa You May Enjoy:
- Fall-Inspired Quinoa Casserole – a quick bake with Asian-inspired flavors!
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad – another hearty salad filled with fall flavors.
- Quinoa, Lentil & Arugula Salad (Easy + Oil-free) – Made with an oil-free dressing and lentils instead of beans.
- 5-Ingredient Stuffed Peppers (Gluten-Free) – swaps the traditional rice for tri-color quinoa for an additional boost of nutrition.
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