Zesty, hearty and incredibly easy to make, this Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad is the perfect make-ahead salad for spring and summer!
We’ve been so in love with this Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad lately.
I especially love this quinoa salad because it’s easy to make, full of plant-based protein and keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
As we head into the warmer spring and summer months, I know a lot of you, like me, are going to start craving healthy, refreshing salads. I've been lots of chickpea salad, including some buffalo chickpea salad and this quinoa salad!
You can eat this quinoa salad on it’s own, add it on top of leafy greens or use it as a filling in wraps.
It’s zesty, fresh and filling!
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) may look like a whole grain, but it is actually a seed.
Grains are extracted from grasses while quinoa is extracted from plants.
However, because quinoa so closely mimics a whole grain, it is often included in the whole grain family.
Technically, it is a “pseudo-cereal” which basically means that it is prepared and eaten in the same way that whole grains are prepared and eaten, but it doesn’t originate from grasses like whole grains do.
There are over a hundred different varieties of quinoa, which come in all kinds of different colors. The most common colors of quinoa that you’ll find in many American grocery stores are white, black and red (or a mix of those three!)
Quinoa packs quite a nutritious punch as it provides a high amount of plant-based protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals including vitamin B and magnesium.
Plus, it contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein.
1 cup of cooked quinoa provides the following:
- 222 calories
- 39 grams (g) of carbs
- 8g of protein
- 6g of fat
- 5g of fiber
- 1g of sugar
Is Quinoa Salad Gluten-Free?
As mentioned above, quinoa resembles a whole grain, but is actually a seed.
This means that it’s gluten-free!
Which also means that this Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad is also gluten-free!
Quinoa is a great gluten-free substitute for whole grains such as couscous, oatmeal and flour.
Thankfully, you can now find quinoa in many different forms including flakes and flours.
How Do You Cook Quinoa?
The process for cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice.
However, if you’re cooking flaked quinoa, then it will follow a similar method as quick cooking oats, etc.
To cook 1 cup of whole quinoa, you should...
- Start by rinsing the quinoa. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh colander and rinse it under running water for about ½ a minute.
- Next, place the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water into a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then decrease the heat so that the mixture is simmering.
- Allow the quinoa to cook uncovered for 10-20 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.
- Next, remove the pot from the heat and cover it with a lid. Allow the quinoa to sit in the covered pot for about 5 minutes.
- Lastly, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and season with salt to taste.
Now you've got perfectly cooked, fluffy quinoa!
Ingredients You Need for Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad
This quinoa salad requires you to prepare a few elements, but it's so worth it!
For the dressing you'll need the following ingredients:
For the rest of the quinoa salad, you'll need
How to Make Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad
This quinoa salad couldn't be easier to make.
To start, cook your quinoa in vegetable broth for about 15-20 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the lemon salad dressing and chop up the tomatoes, cilantro and, if eating right away, the avocado.
Once the quinoa is cooked and fluffy, stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, cilantro.
Pour over the lemon dressing and stir to combine. Right before serving, add on the cubed avocado.
Done and done!
How to Store Leftover Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad
Thanks to the lemon juice in the dressing, this salad keeps beautifully for 5-7 days in the fridge.
Simply store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
However, since avocado can brown easily, I like to add the avocado right before serving and only add as much as needed.
This cilantro lemon quinoa salad tastes best when you let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes to overnight before serving.
Just remember to add the avocado at the last minute!
More Quinoa Recipes
For more healthy recipes involving quinoa, be sure to check out the following recipes!
- Quinoa, Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
- Chocolate Quinoa Cluster Granola
- Cheesy Vegan Quinoa Bake
Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed (or 1 ¾ cup cooked chickpeas)
- large handful of cilantro chopped
- 2 avocados cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 2 small lemons
- 1 teaspoon liquid sweetener maple syrup, agave, honey
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by rising 1 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of vegetable broth into a sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the quinoa to cook for 15-20 minutes or until all of the vegetable broth has been absorbed. Remove the quinoa from the heat, cover the pat and allow it to sit for 5 more minutes. To finish, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the lemon dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad, add the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and cilantro to the quinoa and pour the lemon dressing over top. Stir well to combine. If possible, chill the quinoa salad in the fridge for about 15 minutes to an hour. Right before serving, add in the cubed avocado. Enjoy!