A colorful and healthy quinoa salad with tomatoes, radicchio and pistachios makes a light lunch or a plant-based side dish.
Let’s face it – cooked quinoa on its own is somewhat bland.
So to turn it into a salad, I added juicy cherry tomatoes, bitter radicchio, sweet-sour dried currants, a spicy habañero chili, and earthy pistachios.
There’s also the refreshing lemon-mustard dressing, which works on other salads too. Make a big batch and drizzle it over simple greens, or kale for a flavorful upgrade.
Quinoa Salad Ingredients
My favorite part about this quinoa salad recipe is the ample amount of color, flavor, and textures it offers. It brings a new, healthy spin to the phrase “eat the rainbow”.
At its core, you need a few basic ingredients for this recipe:
- Complete protein (cooked quinoa)
- Colorful vegetables (I use tomatoes, radicchio, and sprouts)
- Crunch (pistachios)
- Dash of sweet & tart (dried currants)
- Hint of spicy (habañero pepper)
- Flavor-packed, vibrant salad dressing to bring it all together
This quinoa salad is endlessly versatile and adaptable, so use your imagination and what’s currently in your fridge.
Here are some ideas:
- RED or TRICOLOR QUINOA instead of white.
- Instead of radicchio chop other lettuces such as ROMAINE, SPINACH or ARUGULA.
- Not into dried currants? Try other dried fruit: CRANBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, RAISINS or chopped APRICOTS.
- Instead of pistachios, chop some WALNUTS, ALMONDS, HAZELNUTS, or throw in some PINE NUTS.
- Sprouts are awesome, but so is chopped MINT, CILANTRO, PARSLEY or DILL.
- I love the kicky, spicy habañero flavor, but you can use other chilies like JALAPEÑO, too. Or skip altogether if spicy isn’t your thing.
How to Make Quinoa Salad
To cook the quinoa for this dish, start by rinsing it to remove any bitterness from the grains.
Then boil the quinoa on the stove until the water is absorbed and the grains have burst open.
If you need help with cooking quinoa, check out this easy step-by-step process that my friend Laura put together.
After cooking, I like to cool the quinoa on a baking sheet to speed up the process.
From here on, the recipe is a matter of quick assembly. Simply toss together the cooled quinoa, tomatoes, radicchio, and other mix-ins.
Whip up the dressing in a lidded jar for easy mixing. Pour it over your salad, and there you have it: fresh, colorful, crunchy, and healthy salad for a quick on-the-go lunch, light dinner, or side dish for a crowd.
Does Quinoa Salad Store Well?
You’ll love how long this salad lasts. If you make it on a Sunday, dress it, and keep it in the fridge, it’ll still be great on Wednesday. It’s kind of a perfect plant-based meal prep recipe to keep on hand.
It also travels well, so consider it for your next picnic.
The salad dressing also keeps well. Cover it and store it in the fridge for up to 10 days. I encourage you to try it on any of your favorite salads, it always adds a refreshing flavor.
Check out these recipes from my library:
More salads. More quinoa. Check out these recipes from my library of vegan dishes:
- Red Quinoa Soup With Corn, Carrot, and Zucchini
- Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing
- Raw Sprouted Lentil Chili
- Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with chasing a fresh salad with a bit of sweet. So check out my entire dessert archive, starting with one of these highlights:
Do you bring salad to your office? Are you into quinoa? Did you make this quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes, radicchio, and pistachios?
Tell me in the comments.Print
Cooked quinoa mixed with vegetables, dried fruit and nuts, and dressed with a refreshing lemon-mustard dressing.
- For the salad:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup radicchio, finely chopped
- ½ cup dried currants
- ½ cup sprouts (daikon or broccoli)
- ¼ cup pistachios
- 1 tablespoon finely diced habañero chili (optional)
- For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 1 lemon)
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve (to prevent it from slipping through the holes) under cold running water. Washing it removes the natural bitter saponin coating.
- Place it in a small stockpot, and add 2 cups of cold water. Cover the pot partially with a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low, cover completely with a lid, and let simmer undisturbed, until the water has evaporated, and the quinoa is fluffy and translucent.
- Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet or tray, spread and let cool (about 30 minutes). This step can be done one day ahead. (Cover the tray and store in a cool place if you’re not making the salad right away).
- In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, tomatoes, radicchio, currants, sprouts, pistachio, and habañero chili.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. In a slow stream, pour in the olive oil and keep whisking until emulsified. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid, and shake until emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss until coated. Taste for salt and adjust. Let sit for 10 minutes for the quinoa to absorb the dressing. Serve immediately.
- Store the salad in the fridge for up to 4 days. (You can mix the salad with the dressing or store them separately).
- Store the dressing in the fridge for up to 10 days. It’s great on other salads too!
- You can add a slightly smoky flavor to the salad by dry-toasting the quinoa after you rinse it and before you boil it.