Spring Quinoa Salad

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This fresh Spring Quinoa Salad is easy to make, packed with healthy ingredients, and dressed with a zippy lemon vinaigrette. Serve it alongside some grilled steak (with a 2-ingredient rub!) for a protein-packed and filling meal.

This spring quinoa salad makes the perfect light side dish to this shepherd’s pie, or the stuffed shells. Add some grilled chicken – using this chicken marinade –  to make this dish its own meal. 

Photo of Spring Quinoa Salad with side of Grilled Steak

Spring Quinoa Salad

Just when I think Spring is around the corner, I’ll wake up the next day to a few inches of snow on the ground. I love springtime, and especially all the spring produce that comes with it: carrots, beets, peas, asparagus, arugula, and fresh herbs are among my favorites! (This citrus and beet salad is the BEST.)

Despite the fact that I still need to wear a coat when I go outside, I’m sharing this spring quinoa salad to get ready for spring. This salad contains fresh herbs, sugar snap peas, and a refreshing lemon dressing. Add some “cheater” quick pickled red onions, candied almonds, and crumbled goat cheese and you’ll be in quinoa salad heaven!

Since it has been warm enough to use my grill, I threw some steaks on the other day and found they were the perfect complement to this Spring quinoa salad. Of course, this salad is still great without the steak, but if you’re looking to make a more filling meal, you’ve got to try the two together!

Images of the seasoning mix compartmentalized and then mixed together

How to make this Salad

  • Cook the Quinoa: follow this guide on how to cook quinoa and then allow the quinoa to completely cool. I like making quinoa a day before I need it to give it plenty of time to chill.
  • Prep the Dressing: the dressing is very simple and quick to make — simply pulse everything together in a food processor or blender. 
  • Cook the Steak: If you’re adding some steak to this salad, see my tips below for how I like to cook my steak for this salad.
  • Assemble: toss together the quinoa, all the prepped veggies, the delicious lemon dressing, cheese, and finally the almonds. I LOVE using these Honey Roasted Almonds in this salad. If using regular sliced almonds, you may want to candy them (use the directions in this Mandarin Orange Salad) or lightly toast them.

Process shots of light quinoa salad making lemon dressing and preparing veggiesSpring Quinoa Salad Variation Ideas

  • Quinoa salad with chicken: using this chicken marinade, grill up some chicken and serve on top of this salad
  • Change up cheeses: if you don’t like goat cheese, try feta cheese instead. To make this completely dairy free, simply omit the cheese topping
  • Additions: I will sometimes add in a chopped avocado, or a few roasted chickpeas, or even a roasted asparagus (chopped up and slightly cooled) to change things up a bit
  • To make the quinoa salad vegan: omit the cheese and use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing

Lemon dressing being poured over Spring Quinoa Salad

Tips for cooking the steak (optional)

  • Generously oil your grill grates. I do this by rolling up a few paper towels, drenching them in oil (I use canola), and using tongs, rub the drenched paper towels along the grill grates. Doing this will contribute to a beautiful sear, and ensure the meat doesn’t stick to the grates.
  • Fully preheat your grill. I know it’s hard to wait, but adding meat to a fully preheated grill will sear the surface of the meat which will give you a juicier steak. It also allows the steak to get an amazing char.
  • Let the steak rest. After taking the cooked steak off the grill, give it some time to rest before eating. This allows the juices to re-distribute evenly throughout the meat. I do this by covering my steak with a piece of foil and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. When you do cut into it, make sure to cut it against the grain.

Finished shot of spring quinoa salad

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Spring Quinoa Salad

0 from 0 votes
This fresh Spring Quinoa Salad is easy to make, packed with healthy ingredients, and dressed with a zippy lemon vinaigrette. Serve it alongside some grilled steak (with a 2-ingredient rub!) for a protein-packed and filling meal.
Print Recipe

Spring Quinoa Salad

0 from 0 votes
This fresh Spring Quinoa Salad is easy to make, packed with healthy ingredients, and dressed with a zippy lemon vinaigrette. Serve it alongside some grilled steak (with a 2-ingredient rub!) for a protein-packed and filling meal.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword spring quinoa salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 356kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas sliced
  • 1/2 ounces goat cheese (or feta cheese)
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds (Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil

Optional Steak Addition

  • 1 pound boneless new york strip steak (2, 8-ounce steaks)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

Dressing

  • 2 large lemons (6 tablespoons juice and 3 teaspoons zest)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil

Instructions

  • SALAD: Start by dicing the red onion. Combine the diced red onion, red wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a small bowl. Set aside and stir occasionally. Cook the quinoa and allow to cool COMPLETELY. (Stick in the fridge to hurry it along if needed). Slice the sugar snap peas and chop the fresh basil and set aside.
  • DRESSING: combine all of the ingredients together - except for the oil - in a food processor or blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper but add to preference). Blend until all ingredients are well incorporated and zest has been broken down. Slowly add in the oil in a steady stream and pulse until just combined and emulsified. Avoid blending the oil in for an extended period of time as it can make the oil taste metallic. Store in fridge until ready to use.
  • STEAK: In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, and 1 teaspoon EACH of salt and pepper. Sprinkle this mixture evenly on all sides of the steaks. Heat an outdoor gas grill or grill pan to high heat (or a large skillet to medium high heat.) Rub an oil drenched paper towel over grill grates or ridges in grill pan. Alternatively, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the skillet. Place steak on grill or pan (it should sizzle when it hits the pan) and cook 3-5 minutes per side (you'll flip the steak only once) OR until a thermometer (inserted in the thickest part of the steak) registers 130 degrees F (for medium rare). Remove from heat and lightly cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • ASSEMBLY: While the steak rests, assemble the salad. In a large bowl, add the completely cooled quinoa, sliced peas, goat cheese, red onion mixture (add it all in, even remaining juices), and basil. Add in dressing to taste (you may not use all the dressing -- add to personal preference; I like a lot of dressing!), and gently toss the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the almonds on top and serve with sliced steak on the side (cut against the grain). 

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I like buying store-bought honey roasted almonds (quick/easy), but if you don't have access or want to make your own, check out the post for how to toast or candy almonds

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 356kcal

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Source: Recipe adapted from Buzzfeed

Nutrition Facts for Spring Quinoa Salad

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