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How to Make Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas

How to Make Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas

This gluten-free, vegan quinoa salad is a must-try if you want a taste of summer in a healthful dish. This refreshing lemon quinoa salad blends somewhat chewy quinoa with fresh cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, and chickpeas, all mixed in a zesty lemon-garlic-mustard vinaigrette.

This quinoa chickpea salad not only keeps you fuller for longer, but it also has various health benefits. Quinoa is high in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, folate, and copper. It also contains a lot of useful plant components including antioxidants. This balanced dinner is incredibly nourishing when coupled with many fresh veggies and an extra-virgin olive oil-based dressing!

Best of all, it’s really simple to cook with minimal hands-on effort; it’s also great for meal prep and is extremely versatile. This version errs on the side of delicious Mediterranean/ Greek flavors, but it’s easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand.

The Ingredients

  • Quinoa: For this quinoa salad, you can use standard white or tri-color quinoa.
  • If you prefer, use a powder or a tiny cube of reduced-sodium veggie bouillon.
  • Vegetables: I stuffed this cold quinoa salad with cucumber, red onion, and green pepper (or yellow/orange/red bell pepper). Tomatoes (big or grape/cherry tomatoes, diced), and zucchini (jarred roasted peppers would also work).
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): I used canned chickpeas, but you may substitute home-cooked chickpeas (or even crispy chickpeas). You could also use other pulses, such as green lentils or white beans, in place of these.
  • Dressing: This tasty homemade lemon vinaigrette is ideal for quinoa salad. It’s made with only a few ingredients: EVOO, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard.

Optional Additions:

  • Fresh herbs: Parsley, cilantro, mint, or basil are all excellent choices.
  • Spice it up with coarsely chopped chile or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Lemon zest: For an extra zing, add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the lemon quinoa salad.
  • Olives: This summer salad already has a Mediterranean flavor profile, and some Kalamata olives will enhance it even further.
  • To enhance the Mediterranean flavors even more, add vegan feta or a similar crumbly ‘cheese.’
  • Lightly roasted pine nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, slithered almonds, and other nuts and seeds will add crunch, protein, and heart-healthy lipids.
  • Raisins, cranberries, or blueberries go well in a cold quinoa salad.
  • If you enjoy the combo of sweet and savory, fresh fruit such as mango, blueberries, strawberries, or apples could work.
  • Protein: To make this quinoa chickpea salad a complete meal, add marinated tofu/tempeh or a meat-alternative chicken, etc. to increase the protein level.

This dish serves as an excellent ‘foundation’ for practically any vegetable you can think of (raw, grilled, or roasted), making it an excellent alternative for cleaning out your crisper drawer/pantry. Here are a few examples:

  • Carrot shreds
  • Spinach, arugula, massaged kale, and other leafy greens
  • Corn Peas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato (roasted/fried in the air)
  • Cauliflower (roasted/fried in the air)
  • Blanched and shredded broccoli (or cooked)
  • cabbage, shredded
  • Green beans, cooked or steamed
  • Artichoke marinade
  • Roasted/broiled/broiled eggplant

How to Make Quinoa Salad?

The following are the instructions for making this simple quinoa salad with chickpeas.

How to Cook Quinoa?

  • To begin, drain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cold water, pressing it between your fingers.
  • Then, add the rinsed quinoa to a saucepan with a cup of water and 12 tablespoons of bouillon powder (or a mini cube).
  • Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the water, and covered with a lid.
  • Then, take it off the heat and set it aside to cool, fluffing it up with a fork.
  • To allow any excess moisture to evaporate, leave the lid on for 5-10 minutes off the heat. Then remove the lid, fluff up the grains, and set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Quinoa Chickpea Salad

  • Prepare all of the vegetables while the quinoa cools. Rinse them and cut them into similar-sized pieces.
  • Then, transfer the vegetables and quinoa to a serving dish and toss to incorporate with the lemon vinaigrette. Enjoy!

How to Store Quinoa Salad?

  • Cook the quinoa (and chickpeas if using dried) several days (2-3) ahead of time and store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator until ready to combine with the remaining ingredients.
  • Store leftovers in sealed containers in the fridge for 3-4 days after they’ve been assembled.
  • Can the quinoa salad be frozen? Because of the fresh vegetables, the constructed cold quinoa salad will not freeze properly. If you prepare more quinoa, you can freeze leftovers in portioned sealed containers/Ziplock bags for 3-4 months.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • To add more quinoa taste, briefly toast it in a pot until aromatic before cooking. This enhances the salad’s rich, earthy flavor.
  • Adjust the texture: By finely chopping all of the vegetables, you will be able to enjoy all of the flavors in a single bite. If desired, cut them more coarsely.
  • To hasten the cooling of the quinoa: Transfer it to a lined tray/dish, spread it thinly, and place it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. The extra surface area will allow it to cool down considerably faster.
  • When to add the dressing: Adding some of the dressing to the warm quinoa helps it absorb better. I recommend adding 1/3-1/2 while warm and the rest when the salad is fully formed.
  • Check that it’s cool: If you add fresh vegetables to warm quinoa, they may lose part of their crispness and wilt.
  • Allow it to rest: While not strictly necessary, allowing the lemon quinoa salad to sit for 20-30 minutes before serving will allow all of the ingredients to marinate with the lemon dressing for a more flavorful overall result.

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