This green love quinoa salad is simple to make, super flavourful, ready in 30 minutes, loaded with veg, and great for lunch leftovers! It’s naturally vegan and gluten-free, and easily made nut-free as well.
Long time, no post! Truthfully I have not felt overly creative these past few weeks. Here in Ontario, our third lockdown has been a bit of a bummer if I can be real with you. I know that brighter days and time together are both on the horizon though. And posting here always brings inspiration and lightness to my days :)
My partner and I have been relying on the same basic and comforting meals, as well as a higher than usual amount of takeout. I feel like my creativity and overall craving for some fresher fare is coming back though, so here we are :)
Quinoa salad was all the rage when I first started this blog a million years ago. I think it’s been that many years since I’ve made one, haha. The key is layering the seasoning into every aspect of the final dish. In this green love quinoa salad, I season the warm quinoa with some of the lemon garlic vinaigrette. I also roast the vegetables in za’atar before tossing them in. The salad is finished with tons of herbs, some soft bits of vegan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and lemon zest. Mega flavour in every bite!
A note on za’atar too: za’atar can refer to a specific variety of oregano/possibly thyme grown throughout the Middle East, but also to a spice mixture that features a mixture any of the following, depending on region and who prepared it: sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, and salt. NPR has a great article about it here. Za’atar (the herb itself and the blend) are discussed further in this beautiful flatbread recipe from Chef In Disguise.
I really like this Canadian brand for soft little crumbles of vegan cheese, but you can use any variety that you like. This salad is easy to make nut-free as well. Just be mindful of the ingredients in your vegan cheese and swap toasted seeds for the pine nuts. I really think that this is the best quinoa salad. It’s such a great vibe for Spring with all the fresh lemon, asparagus, and broccoli in there! It’s also really nice as a leftover lunch situation.
If you like this recipe, I think you’ll be into my Pesto Quinoa and White Bean Bake with Spring Veg as well. Same fresh Spring vibes, but warm and a bit more hearty. I hope that you’re having a good week so far. Catch you back here soon.
Green Love Quinoa Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (plus extra for the finished salad)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced (preferably grated on a Microplane)
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon agave nectar/maple syrup
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup water
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 250 grams asparagus, ends trimmed and diced into 1-inch pieces (about 1½ cups diced asparagus)
- 250 grams broccoli, diced into small florets (about 3 cups diced broccoli)
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za'atar spice blend
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup crumbled vegan soft cheese, optional (see notes)
- To make this nut-free, simply use toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds in place of the pine nuts. Also, double check the ingredients if you opt to finish with a vegan cheese because many of them are nut-based.
- My favourite soft vegan cheese right now is by VegNature. I crumble it on top in the style of a goat or typical feta cheese. Use whichever option you like!
- Cooked millet would be nice in place of the quinoa. You could also do a grain-free version of this with cauliflower rice–if you’re going that route, you likely will not require the full amount of dressing.
- Make the lemon garlic vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, agave, salt, and pepper. Once that's combined, slowly start pouring in the olive oil, whisking as you go. Once you've poured all of the oil in and the vinaigrette is emulsified, give it a little taste. Adjust the level of seasoning if you need to, and then set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and scatter the pine nuts over the surface. Slide the baking sheet into the oven while it's preheating to toast the pine nuts for about 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set them aside to cool.
- In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt. Cover the saucepan with a lid and place it over medium high heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water and the little tails are sticking out, about 13-15 minutes. Once cooked, remove the quinoa from the heat and let it cool in the saucepan for a couple minutes.
- Transfer the cooled toasted pine nuts from the baking sheet to a small bowl.
- Place the diced asparagus and broccoli on the baking sheet. Toss the vegetables with olive oil, the za'atar spice blend, salt and pepper. Once everything is evenly coated, spread the vegetables out in a single layer. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are bright green and slightly softened. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool a bit.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Then, add the roasted asparagus and broccoli, chopped dill, chopped chives, and the rest of the vinaigrette to the bowl. Sprinkle everything with a big pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Use a serving spoon or spatula to toss the quinoa salad together. Once it's all combined, give it a taste to see if you'd like to adjust the seasoning at all.
- Once the salad is to your liking, serve it up with the pine nuts, soft vegan cheese, and reserved lemon zest sprinkled on top. Leftovers keep in a sealed container for up to 5 days.