Quinoa Avocado Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
This quinoa avocado salad features fresh greens, quinoa, creamy avocado, roasted beets, squash and chickpeas and a simple, maple dijon vinaigrette to bring it all together. No need for salads to be boring and this nourishing salad is anything but, it’s loaded with flavour, tastes amazing and is high in plant-based protein and dietary fibre.
No Boring Salads
There’s no need for salads, especially plant-based salads, to be a boring bowl of ice berg lettuce. Salads can be delicious and filling enough for a main course, plus they’re such a great way to sneak in lots of nutrition in one sitting. I like to eat one big salad every day to make it easier to get in all my nutrition needs.
Here are some of my favourite ingredients to take a salad from a side to a main course:
- Whole grains. I like adding a scoop of brown rice, quinoa, barley, farro or freekeh to add some heartiness, energyzing carbs and a boost of protein. Read more about the best options in my guide to whole grains.
- Legumes. Legumes are another easy way to add protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and substance to a salad. Some of my favourites are edamame, roasted chickpeas, white beans, black beans and lentils, either green, French or red. Whole grains, legumes and veggies all add fibre too and this salad will add an epic 23 grams of dietary fibre to your day! A diet high in dietary fibre has been show to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as help maintain more stable blood sugar levels and support healthy digestion.
- Fats. Eating a bit of fat with your salads can help improve absorption of fat-soluble vimtains and minerals plus make the salad more filling. Some good sources of fats are avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, some of my favourites of which are walnuts, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Seeds are a great way to boost the nutrition if you’re on a budget too. They provide much of the same nutrition as nuts do at much less of a cost. Nut and seed butters work great for your dressings too.
- Protein. For plant-based protein sources, we’ve already covered legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, all of which add protein but to get into more detail edamame, tofu, tempeh, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and quinoa are my favourite ways to boost the protein content of a salad. Protein helps keep you feel full is an important nutrient to include in your diet throughout the day. This salad contains 20 grams of plant-based protein!
- Dressings. Creating vegan dressings is the fun part! Dressings are easy to make at home and with a few staples on hand, you can create endless varieties of yummy dressings to elevate your salads. My go-to is lemon tahini sauce but I love a simple herb vinaigrette made from white white vinegar, fresh herbs and garlic. Dijon balsamic is easy and delicious, avocado is delicious blended into dressings, cashews are great and even soft tofu works well for creamy dressings like in my vegan caesar salad dressing.
To simplify this, think of adding these 4 categories to your salads: protein, fat, carb, greens. From there, add in any and all veggies, raw or cooked that you enjoy. Some of my favourites are zucchini noodles, roasted brussel sprouts, grated carrots and beets, sprouts, green onion and steamed broccoli.
As for starchy veggies such as sweet potato, potato and squash, you can balance those with your whole grain, either replacing whole grains or reducing them and adding some more carbs from these sources, say half brown rice and half roasted potatoes.
Cooking Fluffy Quinoa
Here’s the method I use to cook perfect, fluffy quinoa, every time.
- Bring the water to a boil, using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa.
- Add the quinoa, cover and reduce to a light simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes without removing the lid.
- Fluff with a fork and serve.
I don’t soak or rinse my quinoa and I don’t really notice any difference when I don’t but if you want to, do that before cooking. Soaking it is supposed to remove some of the phytates that can hinder digestion of some nutrients and rinsing it is supposed to move the saponins that can give it a soapy taste. I never notice it to be soapy. If you’re concerned with phytic acid content, you can read more about that in my guide to whole grains.
Quinoa Avocado Salad
Alright so if it’s no boring salads allowed, we’re doing alright with this quinoa avocado salad bowl. On top of mixed greens you’ll find baked acorn squash, roasted beets, roasted chickpeas and a sweet and tangy maple dijon vinaigrette to finish it all off.
There’s a bit of prep work to this one but it can all be done ahead of time as part of your weekly food prep. To make the ingredients ahead of time, baked the squash, roast the beets and chickpeas (they can all go in the oven at the same time if needed) and make the salad dressing. Then all you need to do at game time is assemble the salad and dig in. I used mixed field greens for the base of the salad but you could also do kale, spinach or arugula.
To recap, you’ll be needing:
- Greens for the base. I used mixed field greens but any greens, kale, spinach, aruglua or any mixture of those works.
- Quinoa. To give this salad a little more substance and make it a meal with staying power, it has quinoa for added protein and complex carbohydrates. Read more about quinoa in my guide to whole grains.
- Roasted squash. I used acorn squash but butternut, kabocha or any other squash also works.
- Roasted beets. Who doesn’t love roasted beets? They’re so good they taste like candy! I sliced my beets for roasting but you could also do whole roasted beets like I did in this salad.
- Roasted chickpeas. I used homemade, which I explain how to make in the recipe below, but you can go with store-bought in a pinch.
- Avocado. You’ll need 1/4-1/2 ripe avocado per serving. I used half a small avocado, or 50 grams, in each salad. Look for an avocado that has just a slightly give when you squeeze it. You want it to be ripe but firm.
- Maple dijon vinaigrette. For the dressing, you’ll need water, red or white wine or balsamic vinegar, pure maple syrup (or stevia), garlic powder, dijon mustard, lemon, salt and pepper. Just whisk all that together in a bowl and that’s the dressing. You can also make it creamy by blending in 1/2 a container of soft tofu.
Salad Nutritional Details
One serving of this beautiful salad provides 502 calories with 83 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein and 23 grams of fibre. You’ll also be getting 17% of your daily calcium, 52% of your daily iron, 80% of your daily vitamin C and 30% of your daily vitamin A. It also contains healthy fats from the avocado, magnesium, manganese and folate from the chickpeas and a range of other essential vitamins and minerals from the greens, squash and beets.
More Healthy Salads
Loving the looks of this quinoa avocado salad? You might like these ones too:
Mediterranean Farro Salad Bowls // Cauliflower Quinoa Tabouli Bowls // Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls with Tofu Feta // Vegan Roasted Beet Salad with Marinated Chickpeas // Roasted Potato Kale Salad with Balsamic VinaigrettePrint
For the Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp each cumin, sea salt and black pepper
For the Dijon Vinaigrette
- 4 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or balsamic
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Salad (per serving)
- 1 small roasted beet, sliced
- 1/4 of a roasted acorn squash, peeled and cut into cubes
- large handful of mixed field greens (or greens of choice such as spinach, arugula or kale)
- 1/4 to 1/2 a ripe avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- To Make the Roasted Chickpeas. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the chickpeas by draining them and giving them a thorough rinse. Place them on a dish towel, fold it over them and roll them around until they’re near completely dry. The drier, the better. If some of the skins come off that’s good, you can pick those out. For the crispiest chickpeas, remove all the skins. Place the dried chickpeas on a baking tray and drizzle them with the olive oil, rolling around so they’re all coated. Roast for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. When they come out of the oven add the spices and roll around to coat. They will get crispy as they cool.
- To Make the Roasted Beets. Peel and slice beets. Toss with 1 tsp of olive or avocado oil and roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes until tender.
- To Make the Roasted Squash. Cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place face down on a baking tray. Roast until easily pierced with a fork. I roasted the squash at the same time as the beets. If you want you can roast the chickpeas, squash and beets at the same time at 350, the beets and squash will just take a little longer.
- To Make the Dressing. Add all the ingredients to a small dish and whisk or shake in a container until smooth and creamy.
- To Make the Salad. Start with a big handful of greens then top with the diced avocado, roasted beet, roasted squash, roasted chickpeas, diced avocado, scoop of quinoa and drizzle of dressing. For leftovers, store the dressing separately so the salad doesn’t get soggy.
Keywords: roasted beets, roasted squash, avocado, quinoa
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 502
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 83 g
- Fiber: 23 g
- Protein: 20 g