This Arugula Salad with Quinoa is a delicious, high fiber salad that you can serve as an easy side dish or add chicken or another protein to make a hearty main dish. With a sweet and tangy raspberry vinaigrette, this peppery arugula salad gets dressed up with fluffy quinoa, hazelnuts, apples, and goat cheese for a veritable flavor explosion!
This delicious arugula quinoa salad is perfect salad to serve year-round, thanks to salad ingredients that are always in season. But even better, its flavors are versatile enough that you can use whatever fruits, nuts, and cheese you have on hand. You can easily make it your very favorite salad by swapping in your favorite toppings.
Packed with fiber, this hearty quinoa arugula salad recipe is a great way to get a jump on your new year’s nutrition goals. It’s perfect for meal prep so that you have a filling lunchtime salad ready whenever you are.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s a feel good salad, packed with fiber so that you can meet some dietary goals, and loaded with amazing flavors thanks to the goat cheese, fruit, and nuts, so that your tastebuds are doing a happy dance, too.
- You can easily make this as a side dish, but add meat, fish, or a plant-based protein and you have a satisfying main dish as well.
- Perfect for packing. The quinoa and greens store well in the fridge just waiting to be dressed right before serving.
- Affordably serve a crowd with simple ingredients that allow for a variety of substitutions to suit your preferences.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this arugula and quinoa salad:
- Quinoa – You’ll want a batch of cooked quinoa; roughly 3 cups. You will only use about half of the cooked quinoa though. This is about 1 cup uncooked quinoa. You can use regular white quinoa, red quinoa or the tri-color blend is really pretty, too.
- Arugula – Spicy arugula is a nice foil to the sweet raspberry vinaigrette. Feel free to substitute another leafy green for the baby arugula, such as kale or spinach.
- Nuts – I use toasted hazelnuts, but you could also substitute a different nut, such as pine nuts, crunchy walnuts, or almonds. Pepitas or sunflower seeds would also be nice here.
- Diced apple – The apple adds sweetness and crunch. Feel free to swap in pears or another favorite fruit.
- Goat cheese – Crumbly, creamy goat cheese is so good in this salad. If you prefer salty feta cheese or blue cheese over goat cheese, those are good options, too.
For the fresh homemade raspberry vinaigrette:
- Raspberries – Use fresh or frozen berries in the salad dressing. It adds amazing sweet-tart flavors to the vinaigrette.
- Olive oil – I like to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil with a nutty, spicy tone to really give the dressing some extra flavor
- Red wine vinegar – This vinegar gives the dressing just enough acid to offset the sweet. You can use fresh lemon juice, but go for a sweet lemon, like Meyers so that it’s not too tart.
- Diced shallot – Just a bit of diced shallot adds a peppery note to the vinaigrette. You can substitute red onion and garlic for an approximate substitution.
- Dijon mustard – This is a great emulsifier for dressings. You don’t need much, but it helps pull it all together.
- Honey – Add enough honey to balance the flavors to your preference. You can also use maple syrup.
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Here’s how easy it is to make this arugula quinoa salad recipe:
Begin by cooking the quinoa according to the package directions, making sure to rinse first if not already pre-rinsed. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring water to a boil on high heat, then immediately lower to simmer, cover the pan and allow to cook, about 15-20 minutes.
The quinoa is done cooking when the water is fully absorbed and the quinoa is soft and chewy. Remove from the stove and let cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing, chop up the apple and toast the hazelnuts.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients for the raspberry vinaigrette to a food processor or immersion blender. Pulse till blended and smooth, adjusting the taste with salt and pepper, as well as more honey if needed. Depending on the sweetness of the raspberries, you may need to add more honey.
Combine all the ingredients to a large bowl. Drizzle on the vinaigrette and toss well. Serve immediately.
Alternately, the salad can be made ahead of time, just make sure to add the fresh cut apple and dressing just before serving.
If making for meal-prep lunches, divide up ingredients evenly in meal prep containers, making sure not to add the dressing. Dress just before eating.
What is quinoa and why is it a healthy option?
Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal, not technically a grain or a seed. It has become quite popular in the last decade by those following a grain-free diet. One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Originally cultivated by the Incas, quinoa is packed with fiber and protein, leaving you satiated and nourished. Protein-packed quinoa is also great for your overall gut health. By acting as a prebiotic, it helps feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.
It can be served in both sweet or savory dishes, and is great on its own as a simple side dish. It is also versatile in that many different ingredients can be added to it, especially vegetables and proteins, making it a powerhouse ingredient to keep in your pantry.
Recipe tips & tricks
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions, but once the cooking time is done, remove the pan from the heat and place a paper towel under the lid to absorb extra moisture. Watch this quinoa cooking demo to learn more. It really does help the quinoa’s texture! Cool it to room temperature before assembling the salad.
- For best texture and flavor, toast the nuts that you use. You can toast them 2 ways. Either on the stovetop in a small skillet heated over medium heat. Toss the nuts till fragrant and warm, about 5 minutes.
- Or you can toast them in the oven. Place them on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for a few minutes, just until you smell a nice nutty aroma. Don’t walk away or else you risk burning them.
- When making the dressing, be sure to blend it with a food processor or immersion blender. Higher speed machines, like Vitamix, will change the texture too much.
- Pre-portion out single serving sizes in a mason jar or some other sort of airtight container, for quick meal-prep lunches. This hearty salad will keep for 3-5 days and won’t wilt (make sure to add the vinaigrette just before serving).
Serving suggestions: this is a delicious hearty side to serve with chicken, fish, or shrimp.
Arugula Salad with Quinoa and Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 bag arugula 5 ounces
- ¾ cup hazelnuts toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 large apple chopped
- 5 ounces goat cheese crumbled
For the raspberry vinaigrette
- 1 cup raspberries fresh or frozen
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon shallot diced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey may need to add more depending on sweetness of raspberries
- 2-3 tablespoon water to thin out dressing
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa to package directions. Allow to cool to room temperature once done cooking. You will only use about half the amount you cook. Reserve the remainder for a future use.
- To make raspberry vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse till smooth. Dressing will be on the thicker side, so add about 3-4 tablespoons of water, 1 at a time to get desired consistency. Adjust flavor by adding more honey if necessary and salt and pepper. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
- Chop up apple and set aside.
- Toast hazelnuts either on the stove in a skillet heated over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Roughly chop once toasted.
- To a large bowl, add the arugula, quinoa, chopped apple, toasted hazelnuts and goat cheese. If serving right away, drizzle on desired amount of dressing and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If making ahead of time, add apple and dressing right before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 3 days.