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Apple Quinoa Salad

This Quinoa Apple Salad focuses on good-for-you ingredients: spinach, quinoa, apples, pears, pistachios, and dried cranberries. The salad is tossed in a simple lemon-poppy seed vinaigrette.
Course Salad, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Vegan
Keyword Apple Quinoa Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 as a side
Calories 371kcal
Author Chelsea Lords



  • 1/2 cup (80g) quinoa tri-colored or plain
  • 1 cup (220g) chicken broth, veggie broth, or water
  • 6 cups (150g, 5 oz) baby spinach
  • 1 large apple (Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
  • 1 large pear (Anjou)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (70g) shelled, roasted, and salted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup (45g) dried cranberries

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons (51g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (do not use regular mustard)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar (See Note 1)
  • 1/3 cup (64g) olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds


  • QUINOA: Prepare the quinoa by rinsing it under cold water in a fine-mesh sieve. This removes the bitter saponin coating. Combine the quinoa and water (or broth) in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add in a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt to taste), reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keep the quinoa covered, and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and then add 2-3 tablespoons of the prepared dressing (see next step). Toss and refrigerate to chill until at room temperature.
  • DRESSING: While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, onion powder, Dijon mustard, salt, and sugar in a small blender or food processor. Blend or pulse until completely smooth. Slowly pour in the oil and blend just until emulsified. Do not overblend. Stir in the poppy seeds, transfer to a jar with a lid, and chill in the fridge while preparing the other components of the salad. Re-shake to combine before dressing the salad.
  • SPINACH: Remove large stems and then coarsely chop the spinach (just a few coarse cuts through all the spinach). Add to a large bowl and toss with the room-temperature quinoa.
  • FRUIT: Chop or thinly slice the apple and pear. Toss both fruits with lemon juice to keep from browning too quickly. Add to the spinach and quinoa.
  • FINISHING SALAD: Sprinkle the pistachios and dried cranberries into the salad. Drizzle with dressing (add to preference; store any leftover dressing in the fridge for up to 1 week). Gently toss to combine and enjoy.
  • STORAGE: This salad doesn't sit well with the dressing, so only dress what will be enjoyed the same day. Store any leftover salad and dressing separately. Apples and pears will brown if cut in advance.


Note 1: Sweetener: Add sugar gradually and to taste preference. We prefer the dressing on the sweeter side to complement the savoriness of the quinoa and spinach.


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 38.3g | Protein: 7.4g | Fat: 23.2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Fiber: 5.7g | Sugar: 20.6g