Main Course/ Side/ Vegetarian

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

February 19, 2020
Plate of quinoa chickpea salad next to big bowl of salad and vinaigrette

In 6th grade, my daughter Piper took a home-ec class at school which included a unit on cooking. She came home one afternoon with a container of leftover quinoa salad in her hands, asking me to buy more so she could make it again. Since she had also recently become a vegetarian, this was good news to me, and even better news that she could make it herself. And, in fact, make it for the rest of us too. Fairly frequently, when Piper is tasked with making dinner for the family, this Quinoa Chickpea Salad is on the table.

This is a simple salad—just quinoa, spinach, chickpeas, and cucumber tossed in a splashy lemon vinaigrette with some chopped Brie on top. Ingredients can be changed according to what you have in the house, or what’s in season at the market. And, it can serve as a side salad next to your protein of choice, or as a main course. Best of all, it keeps for a few days in the fridge, and is perfect for make-ahead lunches.

Ingredients for quinoa chickpea salad

How do you cook quinoa?

This is my favorite method for cooking quinoa. First rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. (This will help take the bitterness out of the quinoa’s outer coating.) Then, pour quinoa into a small saucepan with 1 3/4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Let it sit for 5 few minutes and then uncover it and fluff with a fork. 

Cooked quinoa in small saucepan

How do you make Quinoa Chickpea Salad?

Once you have your quinoa made, the bulk of this recipe is just preparing the dressing and chopping the rest of your ingredients. Start by making the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence or Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning. Then slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground cracked pepper.

Lemon dijon vinaigrette

Next, rinse and pat dry 2 cups of baby spinach or mâche. Chop roughly, if you like smaller pieces of greens in your salad. Chop 1/2 an English cucumber into small bite-sized chunks. Slice 4 ounces of Brie, then cut into small pieces. Rinse a can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) and drain.

To put the quinoa salad together, toss the quinoa with the spinach, cucumber, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour half of it into the salad. Toss so that all grains are coated. Either fold in the Brie, or put it on as a garnish on the top of the salad. Or leave it off for a vegan version! Serve salad with the remainder of the dressing, for people to add to taste.

Close up of quinoa chickpea salad

Is quinoa healthy?

Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains around, and a complete protein. To explain what that means, here’s a quick science lesson. There are 20 different amino acids that form the building blocks of protein. Nine of these amino acids humans can obtain only through their diet. These are called the essential amino acids, and a complete protein contains all nine of them.

Eating complete proteins is important for vegetarians and vegans in particular, because while meats, eggs, fish, and yogurt are complete proteins, nuts and beans are not. So quinoa is a great addition to the vegetarian diet, and in fact, for anyone who is looking to reduce their meat consumption. It’s important to note that you don’t need to eat a complete protein at every meal—you can combine foods that contain different amino acids over the course of the day and still get everything you need for your diet. But it’s nice to have it all in one place!

Quinoa is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium, and iron, as well as antioxidants. It’s as easy to cook as rice, so should really make it to more dinner tables than it does right now. Interesting side note: NASA is currently looking at growing quinoa in space because of its high nutritional value and relative ease of cultivating and cooking!

How long does this quinoa chickpea salad last?

This is a great make-ahead meal. Cooked quinoa will last several days in the refrigerator, so you can make a large batch on the weekend, and then pack for lunch that week. The vinaigrette will last for at least a week in the refrigerator. For the freshest taste, prep all the ingredients and store them separately in the refrigerator. That said, you can prep this whole salad, and it lasts quite well for a day or two. After that, you may find the cucumbers and spinach are more wilted than you would like, though still tasty.

Glass bowl of quinoa chickpea salad with quinoa, cucumber, chickpeas, mache, and brie

Is quinoa vegan?

Yes, it is. Quinoa is actually a plant in the amaranth family, which is primarily grown for its seeds (which are what we are eating in this recipe). Quinoa originated in South America, where it was first used as a food for humans 3-4 thousand years ago. It is completely vegan, and also gluten-free, making it a great base for many different types of diets.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may want to check out another delicious quinoa salad recipe, my Quinoa Grain Bowl with Sesame-Ginger Dressing. If you’re looking for more vegetarian recipes, don’t miss these:

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This quinoa chickpea salad features quinoa tossed with spinach, chickpeas, and cucumber in a lemony vinaigrette and topped with cubes of creamy Brie cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. (6.4 oz.) quinoa
  • 2 c. (2 oz.) packed baby spinach or mache
  • 1/2 English cucumber (about 8 oz.)
  • 4 oz. Brie cheese
  • 1 15.5 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

For the Vinaigrette

  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. finely chopped shallots
  • 2 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 t. Herbes de Provence or Penzey’s  Sunny Paris Seasoning
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Instructions

    1. First, rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. (This will help take the bitterness out of the quinoa’s outer coating.)
    2. Then, pour quinoa into a small saucepan with 1 3/4 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
    3. When the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then uncover it and fluff with a fork. 
    4. While quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together lemon juice, finely chopped shallots, dijon mustard, and herbes de provence.
    5. Then slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil.
    6. Season with salt and freshly ground cracked pepper.
    7. Rinse and pat dry baby spinach or mâche. Chop roughly, if you like smaller pieces of greens in your salad.
    8. Chop your cucumber into small bite-sized chunks.
    9. Slice Brie, then cut into small pieces.
    10. Drain and rinse chickpeas.
    11. To assemble the quinoa salad, toss the quinoa with the spinach, cucumber, and chickpeas in a large bowl.
    12. Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour half of it into the salad. Toss so that all grains are coated.
    13. Either fold in the Brie, or put it on as a garnish on the top of the salad.
    14. Serve salad with the remainder of the dressing, for people to add to taste.

Notes

Brie can be left out of this recipe for a vegan version.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 516Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 643mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 15g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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  • Alexandra
    February 20, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Love quinoa salads – and this sounds delicious. Well done to Piper, too!

    • Chef Molly
      February 24, 2020 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks! My kids are typically quite picky eaters, so I’m thrilled that she loves to make this recipe!

  • Jeff the Chef
    February 21, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I love quinoa, and so this salad sounds really good to me.I really enjoyed your post.

    • Chef Molly
      February 24, 2020 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Jeff! It’s on regular rotation in our house!