This bright and colorful quinoa chickpea salad is packed with vegetables and flavored with an easy lemon vinaigrette. Great for plant based dinners or sides.
Queue up this amazing quinoa chickpea salad for your meal plan this week. It has a Greek flair, thanks to the tomato, cucumber, olives and lemon dressing, and works equally as well as a vegan main dish salad or side dish.
If freezing quinoa is part of your meal prepping routine, you can make this salad in a matter of minutes. It stays fresh in the fridge for a few days. Last week, I ate it for lunch a few times, mixing in a handful of spinach to boost the greens in my day.
What you need for this quinoa chickpea salad:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Quinoa: I used white quinoa so that the colors of the veggies would “pop”, but black and red quinoa (or a combo) works equally well.
- Chickpeas: Keep canned chickpeas on hand to add to salads and soups.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes (grape or cherry), English cucumber (less seeds & non-waxy skin) and bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
- Kalamata olives: I buy pitted kalamata olives, then cut them into quarters. Don’t like olives? Read below for other options.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs add wonderful flavor and brightness. I used basil, mint and parsley in this salad.
- Dressing: The dressing is a simple vinaigrette made from lemon juice (please use fresh squeezed!), white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar), , agave nectar (or honey – not vegan), olives oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Tips for making this chickpea quinoa salad:
Quinoa salad is fantastic for meal prep and this Greek quinoa salad is no exception. You have the option of using freshly made or frozen quinoa. More on frozen quinoa in a moment.
When cooking quinoa, I highly recommend first giving it a good rinse in a fine mesh sieve. Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, which lends a bitter taste to the quinoa. Saponin is fantastic in the wild because it prevents animals and insects from attacking or eating it. But it’s not so great for human taste buds either. A good rinse should take care of that.
Cook the quinoa according to the directions in the recipe card below, then spread it out on a large baking sheet to cool. If you add the herbs and dressing when the quinoa is still hot, the herbs will wilt and the quinoa will soak up all of the dressing like a sponge.
Before using the canned chickpeas, dump them into a fine mesh sieve or colander, give them a good rinse and drain well.
Chop the tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper. Combine them in a serving bowl with the cooled quinoa and fresh herbs. I love the combo of basil and mint here!
Any good quinoa salad recipe is made better by a great homemade dressing. The lemon dressing takes mere minutes to make. Make a triple batch and keep it on hand for salads throughout the week.
My one request for the dressing…please use fresh lemon juice. It makes all the difference!
Tips for meal prep:
Quinoa is a great option for gluten free grain salads or for adding to soups and stews, like my reader favorite Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa.
Another bonus is that quinoa freezes really well. I discovered this several years ago and have made cooked quinoa a regular resident in my freezer. Head to How to Freeze Quinoa for the details.
Needless to say, the prep time for this salad drops significantly when working with quinoa that’s already cooked.
One cup of uncooked quinoa equals approximately 3 cups cooked quinoa. If you freeze the quinoa in 1 cup packages, which is what I often do, just grab 3 packages to make this salad.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I leave out the olives?
Short answer – yes. If olives aren’t your thing, but you still appreciate the briny, salty flavor, use capers instead.
If you’re just not a fan of briny flavors, try swapping the olives with some crumbled feta cheese instead. Look for vegan feta if 100% plant-based is your goal.
None of the above work for you? Skip the olives, capers and feta altogether. But be sure to compensate with a little extra salt. Taste the salad first, then adjust the seasoning for your tastebuds.
How long does quinoa salad last?
As long as the vegetables are fresh and not overripe when first added, the quinoa salad should last for 3 to 4 days when refrigerated in an airtight container, such as this one.
The basil and mint will start to turn brown after day. So, if you’re meal prepping and won’t be eating the salad for a couple of days, slice and add the herbs just before serving.