Vegan Quinoa Salad

February 28, 2023

Appetizers and Sides

By: Jasmine Briones 

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!

horizontal photo of vegan quinoa salad in large blue bowl with wooden spoon

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.

labeled ingredients for vegan quinoa salad on metal baking sheet

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!

Equipment Needed

photo of vegan quinoa salad in white bowl

How to Make Vegan Quinoa Salad

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Season and serve. Adjust the seasonings to taste, then serve the vegan quinoa salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to enjoy!
close up of wooden spoon full of vegan quinoa salad

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.

If you’re looking for additional easy lunch-on-the-go ideas, you may love these delicious salads: Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad, Easy Vegan Chicken Salad, or Vegan Cobb Salad in a Jar.

Storage Instructions

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:

Print
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horizontal photo of vegan quinoa salad in large blue bowl with wooden spoon

Vegan Quinoa Salad Recipe


  • Author: Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: About 6 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

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!


Ingredients

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar 
  • ½ tablespoon agave 
  • 2 tablespoons Hot Sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Remaining Salad

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz roasted red peppers, diced 
  • ½  red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ounces vegan feta cheese

Equipment


Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. Drain, transfer to a pot with your liquid of choice, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to a simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat for 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small bowl or jar and mix until uniform.
  3. To a large bowl, add the quinoa and all of the remaining ingredients, as well as all of the dressing. Toss until uniform. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Salad, Side
  • Method: Stovetop

Keywords: salad, appetizer, summer, picnic, quinoa, vegan protein, vegan cheese, bean salad

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. BRENDA says:

    Omg this was so flavorful! I am training for a spartan race next week and saw this pop up and immediately said to myself I must make the quinoa recipe! I love how quick and simple it is as I am pressed for time on weekends. Looking over it I realized I forgot the agave and didn’t have red onion but subbed a yellow onion and since I am kind of a spice wuss only added 1 Tbsp of hot sauce (have 2 bottles of cholula so yeah used that) anyways I can’t wait to eat this all week at work! Plan to make the pasta later!

    • Cathy says:

      I used Cholula too and came here to say it was a fantastic substitute! So glad I tried this recipe.

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