The BEST recipe for quinoa salad! Full of toasted pine nuts, corn, cranberries, greens, parmesan and all tossed with a creamy buttermilk basil dressing. Perfect for meal prep, bbqs, parties or anytime!
This quinoa salad is an absolute game changer. My friend made it for a playgroup party last month and I’ve been making it on repeat ever since. It’s the best quinoa salad I’ve ever had!
The combination of flavors and textures is spot on! It has toasted pine nuts, sweet corn, parmesan and lots of finely chopped greens. I like to use a combination of spinach and baby kale.
The whole salad is also tossed in a tasty buttermilk basil dressing. The dressing is so good it’s practically drinkable! It’s the perfect “mom lunch” or side to bring to a party.
How to Make Quinoa Salad
STEP 1: Rinse the quinoa! Quinoa can have a natural coating called saponin that gives it a soapy flavor. Rinsing quinoa helps remove this coating. Most quinoa you buy at the store comes pre-rinsed, but even so an additional rinse helps the quinoa to cook up nice and fluffy. It works best to use a fine mesh strainer to rinse quinoa.
STEP 2: Cook the quinoa. I like cooking quinoa with the proportions of 1 cup quinoa to 1 3/4 cup liquid. I also add a pinch of salt. Quinoa only takes 15 minutes or so to cook! Once it’s done, fluff it with a fork and let cool slightly before mixing in the rest of the ingredients. Check out this post for how to season quinoa! You also might like this costco quinoa salad.
STEP 3: Make the dressing. While the quinoa cooks make the basil buttermilk dressing. This dressing is to-die-for! Simply add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor.
STEP 4: Blend the dressing: Blend until smooth! Add a pinch more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Set aside until you’re ready to mix the salad together.
STEP 5: Add salad ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients for the quinoa salad to the bowl. The quinoa shouldn’t be hot, but it’s ok if it’s slightly warm for this part.
STEP 6: Toss with the dressing. Add the prepared dressing (you’ll probably use it all!) and toss to combine. After you add the dressing, season to taste with salt and pepper. This is important! Sometimes that last little sprinkle of salt can make all the difference. You can serve this immediately or refrigerate it for later.
TIP: Taste the quinoa salad once you’ve mixed everything together to see if it needs a little more salt and pepper.
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Quinoa Kale Salad Recipe
I like using a mix of baby greens – both spinach and kale in this salad. The baby greens have a nice mild taste and texture, however you can use whatever greens you like!
I love how the corn, pine nuts and dried cranberries are all about the same size. It makes eating this salad a delight! The extra flavor from the parmesan really makes the salad too.
Just If you’re searching for a crowd-pleasing side dish to bring to a BBQ or a special salad to make for a baby shower of ladies lunch – try this quinoa salad! It’s easy to make, but looks and tastes fancy.
It’s so good I’ve also been making it for my husband and I for lunches during the week. If serving it at a party toss the salad with the dressing just before serving. However, it will also keep in the fridge for up 3 days.
TIP: Use a mix of baby greens – both spinach and kale for this salad. The baby greens have a nice mild taste and texture!
Tips for Making Quinoa Salad
- Use pre-rinsed quinoa and give it an extra rinse so it has a nice light flavor.
- Toss it with a flavorful dressing – like this creamy buttermilk basil dressing.
- Add a variety of ingredients like corn, pine nuts and dried cranberries for taste and texture.
- Use a mix of baby greens either spinach or baby kale (or both).
- Add parmesan cheese for delicious salty flavor!
- Season to taste with salt and pepper one last time before serving.
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MORE DELICIOUS QUINOA RECIPES:
Skillet Southwestern Chicken and Quinoa
Best Quinoa Salad Recipe
For the Quinoa:
- 1 cup dry quinoa rinsed
- 1 3/4 cup water
- pinch of salt
For the Buttermilk Basil Dressing:
- 1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 3 cups baby kale & spinach chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/2 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups white corn
- For the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer . Bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. Bring back to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Allow to cool slightly.
- For the dressing: Place the ingredients for the dressing in a blender. Blend until smooth then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss the slightly cooled quinoa with the remaining salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing just before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper (a pinch more salt is sometimes needed!). Enjoy!
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Delicious!! I made this today with a mix of fresh chopped greens straight from my garden (swiss chard, kale, lettuce, and sorrell) and when I found that I didn’t have any pine nuts, substituted toasted pecans. This is a light but filling quinoa salad, and the dressing is easy to make and so tasty. We loved it! Definitely will make it again.
I’m so glad it turned out for you! Thanks for the comment 🙂
This is such an easy lunch, which is perfect for our busier days! It’s so flavorful, filling, and healthy. Love it!
Had this for lunch today – LOVED IT!!! Great blend of flavors 🙂
I am not normally a huge quinoa fan, but I’ve been trying to eat it more. With all of these flavors, I really like this recipe! Super delicious.
This salad is truly amazing. It is tough to imagine how vibrant the basil dressing could really be until it is made. The flavors all mesh so well together. The sweetness from the corn and cherries, the nuttiness from the toasted pine nuts, the earthiness from the quinoa and the freshness from the basil—unbelievable! What a treat. This is my favorite quinoa salad of all time now.
Thank you Tricia! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
FYI this is listed as egg free however it has mayonnaise as an ingredient. Make sure you use vegan mayo if you are allergic to eggs like I am.
Thanks for pointing that out!