This quinoa chickpea salad features quinoa tossed with spinach, chickpeas, and cucumber in a lemony vinaigrette and topped with cubes of creamy Brie cheese.
This Quinoa Chickpea Salad is so simple—just quinoa, spinach, chickpeas, and cucumber tossed in a splashy lemon vinaigrette with some chopped Brie on top. It's a staple in our house, as it's perfect for a budding vegetarian and her parents.
Why Make This Dish
- Ingredients can be changed according to what you have in the house, or what’s in season at the market, so this salad is super versatile.
- It works as both as a side salad or as a main course. Plus, it's vegetarian (or vegan without the Brie!) with plenty of protein from the quinoa and chickpeas!
- Best of all, it keeps for a few days in the fridge, and is perfect for make-ahead lunches.
There are only a few ingredients in this dish, and many can be substituted if you don't have them on-hand.
Quinoa: You can easily make this into another kind of grain salad by replacing the quinoa with brown rice, farro, or another grain. Choose one where the grains don't stick together when cooked (for example, avoid using sticky white rice).
Chickpeas: I love chickpeas in this salad, but you could also try this dish with black beans or white beans, or even black-eye peas.
Brie: Feel free to replace this with cubes of whatever cheese you prefer, or with crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese.
Spinach: You can also use baby kale, mâche, arugula, or any other tender baby greens you can find!
Dried Herbs: I love Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning in the vinaigrette for this dish, but you could replace with Herbes de Provence, dried oregano, dried Italian Seasoning, or dried basil.
Rinse 1 cup quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. (This will help take the bitterness out of the quinoa’s outer coating.) Pour quinoa into a small saucepan with 1 ¾ cups of water and ½ 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 minutes and then uncover it and fluff with a fork.
While quinoa is simmering, make 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 ½ cup of olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground cracked pepper.
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 ½ 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.
Now 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.
🧐 Recipe FAQs
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.
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!
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.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
Cooking Quinoa: There are many methods for cooking quinoa, and instructions often differ from package to package. While I usually recommend going by whatever your package tells you, I tend to ignore the packaged instructions with quinoa. I find that they usually tell you to simmer the quinoa in more water than you need. When quinoa absorbs that extra water, it gets stickier, and you'll find that it clumps easily. For this salad, you really want the grains as distinct as possible, so follow my instructions above for best results!
Other Delicious Recipes
If you enjoyed this Quinoa Chickpea Salad recipe, you may want to check out three other delicious quinoa salad recipes, my Quinoa Avocado Salad with Corn, my Quinoa Grain Bowl with Sesame-Ginger Dressing and my Arugula Salad with Apples and Quinoa. My Vegan Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing, my Ramen Egg Rice Bowl, and my Warm Pearl Barley Grain Bowl are other delicious grain bowl options.
If you’re looking for other salad recipes that can serve as a main course, you might enjoy my Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Miso Dressing, my Orzo Pasta Salad with Black Beans and Corn, and my Chickpea Tuna Salad.
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below—I read them all, and your feedback is invaluable to me. And please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter. I'd love to inspire you with more delicious, healthy, and seasonal recipes!
- 1 c. (6.4 oz.) quinoa
- 2 c. (2 oz.) packed baby spinach or mache
- ½ 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
- ½ c. olive oil
- 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 ¾ cups of water and ½ 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 minutes and then uncover it and fluff with a fork.
- While quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together lemon juice, finely chopped shallots, dijon mustard, and herbes de provence.
- Then slowly whisk in ½ cup of olive oil.
- Season with salt and freshly ground cracked pepper.
- Rinse and pat dry baby spinach or mâche. Chop roughly, if you like smaller pieces of greens in your salad.
- Chop your cucumber into small bite-sized chunks.
- Slice Brie, then cut into small pieces.
- Drain and rinse chickpeas.
- To assemble the quinoa salad, 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.
- Serve salad with the remainder of the dressing, for people to add to taste.
- Brie can be left out of this recipe for a vegan version.
- 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.
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.