Quinoa Salad (Vegan + Gluten free)

A flavourful and zesty salad that includes nutritious quinoa, dried cranberries, chickpeas, toasted almonds and fresh herbs, with a tangy lemon mustard dressing.

I am currently in full swing of wedding planning.

Let me remind you it is now wedding planning 2.0 since my first wedding was postponed due to our friend Covid 19.

So we have completely rethought and changed the entire thing – which has actually been a blessing in disguise! We are able to have an intimate and down-to-earth affair at about half the price, with less stress. So, as much as cancelling a wedding two weeks before was a traumatic process, it did work out in the long run.

The reason why I am talking about my wedding is to try to explain my reason why there are going to be a lot more salad recipes coming up on my blog over the next two months, and very little high calorie indulgences. I am working out really hard and don’t want to nullify all the hard work by having to eat 5 different milk tart experiments in one week (that was literally me two weeks ago! 🤦🏼‍♀️🐽🥴).

Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’)

If you are not familiar with quinoa, I can highly recommend you get aquainted! Not only is it tasty and versatile, but it is a nutritional powerhouse! Having originated from South America, the Inca’s are known to have called it the ‘mother of all grains’.

Although the way we eat quinoa is similar to how we treat whole grains, it is technically a seed, and so called what is known as a ‘pseudo cereal’.

It is naturally gluten free, has a low GI (glycemic index) and contains more nutrients than most other grains.

Quinoa is high in quality protein, and is what is termed a complete protein. This means that it is one of the few plant foods that contains all 9 essential amino acids!

100g of cooked quinoa contains:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 4.4g
  • Carbs: 21.3g
  • Fibre: 2.8g
  • Fat: 1.9g

It is also high in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/quinoa

Along with its nutritional benefits it is also quick to cook, and is very versatile so can be used in many ways in both savoury and sweet dishes.

How to cook quinoa

To cook quinoa, simply use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until fluffy.

In this recipe I boil the quinoa in stock as it imparts a savoury flavour, but it can also be cooked in water, or if you want to have it for breakfast, cook it in your favourite plant-based milk.

It is also probably a good idea to rinse quinoa, as I have read it is coated in natural saponins which can cause a bitter taste. Although I have read that most commercial brands pre-rinse their quinoa before packaging, I like to give it a quick rinse before I use it anyhow.

This recipe really couldn’t be easier. Simply cook quinoa, chop some vegetables, make a quick dressing and toss altogether. It is so tasty with the combination of flavours really working well together.

The soft, mildly nutty flavour of the quinoa is offset by the tangy lemon mustard dressing. Added to this the sweet bursts of chewy dried cranberries, fresh, bright tastes of parsley and coriander, and the crunchy toasted almonds. It really is more-ish!

My fiance and I have been eating this as a meal for the last day or so. The quantity in this recipe makes 4 decent sized main meal portions, and is pretty balanced as far as the macronutrient profile goes. There are good carbohydrate and protein sources from the quinoa and chickpeas, a serving of fresh vegetables with the pepper and celery, as well as the fat from extra virgin olive oil and almonds. Last night I served it on a bed of shredded butter lettuce, and tonight I will serve it alongside some steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

This is a salad I will be taking with to braai’s (barbeques) and get-togethers, as it is way more exciting than your regular potato or pasta salad. In fact, I think this will be a really great addition to a Christmas table spread as well!

Quinoa Salad (Vegan + Gluten free)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Catherine Stevenson Course: Main, SidesDifficulty: Easy


As a main
Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



A fresh and interesting salad that is full of plant protein from both the quinoa and chickpeas. Substantial enough for a main meal, or serve as a side – guaranteed to be loved by all.


  • 1 cup dry/uncooked white quinoa

  • 2 cups vegetable stock

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas

  • 1/2 cup / 125mls dried cranberries

  • 100g raw or toasted almonds

  • 1 large red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced

  • 3-4 sticks celery, chopped

  • 1/4 cup / 60mls chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/4 cup / 60 mls chopped fresh coriander

  • Dressing
  • 100mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 100mls olive oil

  • 15mls / 1 Tbs mustard

  • 15mls golden/traditional/maple syrup

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste

  • Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked black pepper


  • In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable stock on medium high heat until beginning to boil.
  • Rinse quinoa in a sieve and add to the boiling stock. Cover with a lid, turn down the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed. Set aside to cool. (I usually let it cool slightly at room temperature and then place in the fridge to speed up the process.)
  • If you are using raw almonds, preheat your oven to 180C and place your almonds on a baking sheet. Toast for 5-8 minutes, watching very closely as they burn quickly. Set aside to cool.
  • Chop the cooled toasted almonds roughly and add to a large bowl, leaving a small handful aside to sprinkle on top as garnish.
  • Dice the red pepper, red onion, celery and herbs and put them in the bowl with the almonds, chickpeas, cranberries and cooled quinoa. Stir to combine.
  • Dressing
  • Add all the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well (make sure the syrup is whisked through as it tends to stick to the bottom).
  • Assembling
  • Add most of the dressing to the quinoa salad and stir well. I usually don’t use all the dressing, so check at this point – if you would prefer it more wet, add all the dressing. If you are like me – I prefer to keep some dressing aside and add it over the top when serving, if needed.
  • Garnish with the extra chopped almonds and fresh coriander.


  • You can use red quinoa for this, or a mix of both red and white – I just prefer the white in this as I find it slightly softer than the red and I think it works better.
  • This recipe is adapted from a recipe received at the Pick n Pay School of Cookery, titled ‘Couscous Salad’.
  • I find this makes 4 generous servings as a main dish, or 8 as a side.


  1. Thank you for this recipe! Made it today. A great and substantial dish, the crunch (of nuts and peppers) and sweet (cranberries) and coriander is of course like catnip to me! Love that the vegan in our family will be properly nourished. I did substitute a bit as i didng havd everythjng. Worked fine.. delicious. (but to be fair to your recipe i will make it again with all the proper things. I didn’t have celery or parsley this time si used some finely chopped kale). Chickpeas go well. Thanks for you tip about the difference between red a d white quinoa. I made it with red, but in this case, the white would probably have been better. Thank you so much. This is a winner

    • Thanks so much for your comment Carol, I’m so glad you liked the recipe! Also great to hear it worked with substitutions, I love the idea of the finely chopped kale in it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *