The air is warming up, which means I’m craving all the fresh things like salad. This easy quinoa salad is quick, nutritious, and gluten-free & vegan to boot.
Early in my healthy eating days, I was introduced to a small, seed-like psuedo-grain. Quinoa (I mistakenly pronounced it ken-oh-uh, if you’re wondering) boasted a high-protein content (a plus for my vegan days), and was easy on my digestion, needing little to no soaking. Since switching over to a primarily paleo-style diet, quinoa stopped getting much play in my kitchen, which is a shame because it’s so versatile.
Cue the Bubba voice, “Quinoa breakfast porridge, quinoa stir-fry, quinoa salad…” You see where I’m going with this; quinoa can flex some muscle when needed.
Best quinoa salad? I think so.
Since doing some gut healing and experimenting with different foods, I’ve found that quinoa seems to be a safe starch for me. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s ok, there are tons of grain-free recipes here, including my favorite chopped salad. If you CAN eat quinoa, congrats! this easy quinoa salad is for you- and pssst… it’s the best quinoa salad ever!
Not only is this salad super fresh and yummy, it has some distinct health benefits, which is why I’ve dubbed it a Quinoa Detox Salad. Let’s look at the ingredients to see just how hard they’ll work for you and your lovely bod.
Easy quinoa salad: the players
Quinoa salad contains quinoa (which, by the way, is actually pronounced keen-wah, in case you’ve been living under a rock. Don’t want you to make the same faux pas I did when I first heard about it!). Duh. Here’s why that’s such a great thing. Quinoa:
- is a complete protein, which is rare for plant-based foods. This means it has the complete profile of all 20 amino acids, including the 10 essential acids our body doesn’t produce on its own.
- is actually more of a seed than a grain, based on its botanical makeup, which means it may actually be a suitable source of good carbs for those who stick with a mostly grain-free diet.
- is a good source of minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- contains coveted b vitamins.
- is a good source of fiber.
In addition, this easy quinoa salad is chock full of veggies and greens, some of which are detox powerhouses.
Another reason this is the best quinoa salad- it helps with detox:
Cilantro- known to help chelate heavy metals, cilantro should grace our tables daily! I like to add it to fresh-pressed juice, salads, guacamole, and anything else I can match the flavor profile to (I’m not one of those poor people who think it tastes like soap, thankfully!).
Lime juice- lime juice is a diuretic that helps to flush toxins from the body. It’s also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which help rid the body of free-radicals.
Garlic- a powerful antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal, garlic can help with everything from the common cold to parasites. It contains a special compound called allicin which can also help relieve symptoms of allergies.
Plus- the nourishing ingredients:
Avocado- I don’t have to tell you how nourishing this good-for-you fatty fruit is. Avocados are also loaded with fiber and more potassium than bananas.
Olive oil- rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil is best used cold. Look for high-quality, organic, extra virgin olive oil bottled in dark glass.
Cucumber- a good source of b vitamins and fiber, cucumbers are also hydrating because they have a high water content.
This salad is well-balanced enough to be a full meal of its own, or works great as a side dish next to a steak. To speed things along and take the guesswork out of perfectly cooked quinoa, I cook it on the rice setting in my Instant Pot.
Let’s get on to the recipe for my favorite, super easy quinoa salad, since I clearly don’t need to convince you any more to try it!
Easy Quinoa Salad
Yield 2-4 Servings
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions (note: I prefer to use the rice setting on my Instant Pot for perfect, easy quinoa every time. Use 1 cup water for 1/2 cup quinoa.), then move to refrigerator for 30 min- hour to cool. In a pinch, you can pop it in the freezer for a shorter period of time to cool more quickly, or make ahead and store in refrigerator to keep at the ready.
- Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado and cucumber into 1/2" cubes and set aside.
- Combine fresh lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pressed garlic in a small bowl and stir well.
- Add veggies, cilantro, and oil mixture to the quinoa and stir carefully to combine well. Serve cold and fresh. Keeps covered in fridge for a day or two, but the avocados will brown.
*some believe that eating grains, nuts, and seeds that have been "activated" through soaking or sprouting makes them more digestible and their nutrients more bioavailable. This is the idea behind sourdough bread. You can soak your quinoa with about a cup of water and a tsp of salt or apple cider vinegar for 2-4 hours before rinsing and cooking, or just purchase pre-sprouted quinoa for better digestibility. I personally like this sprouted quinoa best.