Home > Salads > Citrus Quinoa Salad Citrus Quinoa Salad January 3, 2020 | 21 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Nutritious, fresh, and flavorful Citrus Quinoa Salad overflows with clementine oranges, roasted pistachios, creamy avocado, and goat (or feta) cheese. This salad is drizzled with a tangy and sweet citrus vinaigrette. Try our other popular quinoa salads next! This Quinoa Salad with a lemon vinaigrette or this Kale and Quinoa Salad are two favorites on the site. Citrus Quinoa Salad If you’re anything like me, your December was filled with way too many treats. Way too many. The minute January hits, there’s nothing I crave more than big hearty salads to save me from my sugar coma. My sister got married three days after Christmas and we spent the two days leading up to her wedding baking 800 cookies. These Snickerdoodles, these Toffee Cookies, and these Caramel Chocolate Cookies were the favorites of the evening! Baking 800 cookies really means we probably baked around 900 cookies and ended up with 800–all in the name of taste testing of course! I’ve lost count of how many cookies I’ve eaten the last couple of weeks, and I am certainly ready to increase my salad intake for the next month or so to rebalance a bit. Let’s talk quinoa This salad starts with cooked and cooled quinoa–or leftover quinoa from an earlier meal. Below are a few tips; you can also reference this guide on how to cook quinoa for more information. Make sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which can make it taste bitter. Pour the uncooked quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water thoroughly for 30 seconds to a minute. Allow time for the quinoa to steam. Once the liquid is absorbed, don’t rush to cool the quinoa; instead, let it stand (covered) for at least 10 minutes. Letting the quinoa stand allows the quinoa to fully “pop” and ensures it doesn’t end up watery or mushy. Let the cooked quinoa cool completely before adding the other ingredients. (See “quick tip” below.) I love mixing completely cooled quinoa with lettuce for added texture and vibrancy. We use mixed greens in this Citrus Quinoa Salad, but baby spinach would also be delicious. QUICK TIP To speed up the quinoa cooling process, spread the cooked and fluffed quinoa on a sheet pan in one even layer. Place the sheet pan in the fridge (or freezer) for 10-15 minutes or until cooled to room temperature. My favorite way to make a quinoa salad is with leftover cooled quinoa. (The process is so much quicker!) So next time you’re prepping food for the week or preparing a dish with quinoa in it, cook up extra quinoa alongside that and use it straight from the fridge in this Citrus Quinoa Salad. Citrus Dressing The dressing is simple, mild, sweet, a little bit tangy, and the perfect finishing touch to this salad. It’s incredibly simple to make — simply combine all the ingredients in a Mason jar and shake to emulsify. The one tool that makes this dressing even easier is a citrus juicer. It will transform your lemons and oranges to lemon juice (and orange juice) in seconds! QUICK TIPThe dressing can be made in advance; just be sure to shake it up again before drizzling over the Citrus Quinoa Salad. Store any leftover (or made ahead) dressing in the fridge. If the dressing separates or hardens in the fridge, don’t be alarmed; olive oil does this at cold temps. Simply set it out at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes and then shake it vigorously to re-combine. Other Citrus Quinoa Salad Toppings Avocados. The avocado lends an amazing creamy texture to this Citrus Quinoa Salad. Wait for perfectly ripe avocados– they make a huge difference in the overall texture. Here’s how to tell an avocado is ripe. Pistachios. I like to use dry-roasted and lightly salted for the best flavor (without extra work!). If they’re already shelled, that can also save some prep time. Oranges. If clementines are in season, those are my favorite to use! If you don’t have access to clementines, a can of mandarin oranges also works well. Make sure to thoroughly drain the can before adding it to the salad. Cheese. I’m obsessed with goat’s cheese in this salad, but unfortunately, my kiddos don’t share my affinity. Feta cheese is a great alternative, and if you’re dairy intolerant this Citrus Quinoa Salad is still delicious without cheese. Citrus Quinoa Salad Variations Adding protein. While it may seem this meatless salad is missing protein, it actually has a surprising amount of plant-based protein in the quinoa. (One cup of cooked quinoa has 24 grams of protein.) That said, if you’d like more protein, I’d recommend adding some grilled chicken or grilled flank steak (thinly sliced) on the side. Nuts. If you don’t eat nuts, feel free to leave them off! Replace them with dried cranberries or dried tart cherries. Alternatively, swap out the pistachios for a different kind of nuts like pecans or sliced almonds. Swapping out fruit. If you aren’t sure about fruit in a salad, try roasting up some beets in this salad and replacing the oranges with those beets. More details on roasting beets in this beet and goat cheese salad recipe. Citrus Quinoa Salad Storage Once dressed, this quinoa salad doesn’t store well. The dressing makes the lettuce and other ingredients soggy. I recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day. Store dressing and salad separately. (You’ll also want to store the avocado separately as well since it will brown.) More Quinoa Salads: Detox Quinoa Salad with cilantro, black beans, and corn Thai Quinoa Salad with a peanut butter dressing Caprese Quinoa Salad with a balsamic vinaigrette Southwest Quinoa Salad with a cilantro vinaigrette Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with a lemon vinaigrette FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Citrus Quinoa Salad 5 from 8 votes - Review this recipe A nutritious, fresh, and flavorful Citrus Quinoa Salad with clementine oranges, roasted pistachios, creamy avocado, and goat (or feta) cheese. This salad is drizzled with a tangy and sweet citrus vinaigrette. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Citrus Quinoa Salad 5 from 8 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe A nutritious, fresh, and flavorful Citrus Quinoa Salad with clementine oranges, roasted pistachios, creamy avocado, and goat (or feta) cheese. This salad is drizzled with a tangy and sweet citrus vinaigrette. Course Salad Cuisine American Keyword citrus quinoa salad Prep Time 30 minutes Quinoa Chilling Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes Servings 6 servings (as a side) Calories 244kcal IngredientsSalad1/2 cup (95g) uncooked quinoa (I use tricolor; regular works great!)5 cups (100g) fresh spring mix (baby lettuce & baby greens)3 3 fresh clementine oranges (~1-3/4 cup; 205g) Or 1 can (15 oz.) mandarin oranges, well drained1/3 cup (35g) shelled and coarsely chopped, roasted and lightly salted pistachios1/3 cup (40g) crumbled goat or feta cheese optional (I like goat cheese best)1 large ripe avocado diced1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice optionalDressing1/4 teaspoon minced garlic1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (do not use regular mustard)2 tablespoons (26g) apple cider vinegar1 tablespoon (16g) freshly squeezed lemon juice1 tablespoon (16g) freshly squeezed orange juice2-1/2 tablespoons (35g) extra virgin olive oil1-1/2 tablespoons (35g) honey (add slowly to desired sweetness)Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper InstructionsQUINOA: Combine the quinoa and water with salt to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt) in a small pot. Follow package directions to cook the quinoa. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa has "popped", about 15-25 minutes (depending on heat, pot size, etc). Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 5-10 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a bowl in the fridge to chill through. (To get it cold faster, spread it on a lined sheet pan and place in the freezer). Quinoa can be prepared 3-4 days in advance.DRESSING: Add all of the dressing ingredients to a Mason jar. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, but add to your personal preference). Seal the jar and shake until ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.SALAD PREP: Thoroughly drain the mandarin oranges or peel and segment clementines, shell and coarsely chop the pistachios, remove the skin and pit of the avocado, and thinly slice or chop. Drizzle the fresh lemon over the avocado.SALAD ASSEMBLY: In a large bowl, add in the spring salad mix and the cooked, COMPLETELY cooled quinoa. Gently toss to combine. Add in the oranges, pistachios, goat cheese, and avocado. Remove the dressing from the fridge, shake well, and pour over the salad (See Note 1.) We like using all the dressing for this salad, but you may want less depending on how dressed you like your salads (add slowly and to preference). Add some fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste. Enjoy immediately. Video Recipe NotesNote 1: If you aren't planning to finish the salad, only dress what you'll be eating. Also, only prep the number of avocados that you'll be eating that day. Nutrition FactsCalories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 761mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 15058IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 3mg We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.