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 quinoa salad lately. I especially love it because it’s easy to make, full of plant-based protein and keeps well in the fridge for about a week. You can eat this salad on it’s own, add it on top of a leafy salad 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 nutrition facts
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 gluten-free?
As mentioned above, quinoa resembles a whole grain, but is actually a seed. This means that it’s 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 whole 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 rising 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 sauce pan. 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 head 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.
How do you eat quinoa?
Quinoa is super versatile and be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Think of it like rice, couscous or oatmeal. Try it out (either in whole, flaked or flour form) in the following types of recipes:
- Hot quinoa breakfast bowl (like oatmeal!)
- Quinoa fried rice
- Quinoa and bean veggie burgers
- Quinoa granola (i.e. Chocolate Quinoa Cluster Granola)
- Buddha bowls
- Soup and stews
- Stuffed bell peppers
- Granola bars
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, 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!
Storing quinoa salad
Thanks to the lemon juice in the dressing, this salad keeps beautifully for 5-7 days in the fridge. 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!
- 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
- LEMON DRESSING:
- 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
- QUINOA: 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.
- DRESSING: While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the lemon dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
- QUINOA SALAD: 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!
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 312Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 0mgSodium 507mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 11gSugar 11gProtein 8g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate provided by Nutrionix and should be used for informational purposes only.
For more dishes like this Cilantro Lemon Quinoa Salad, be sure to check out the following recipes!