Taste the Rainbow: Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad

Anyone who knows me from my formative years (JENNIFER) will tell you that when I was growing up, I was OBSESSED with rainbows. I drew a rainbow under the “K” in my name on homework, and I bought only rainbow posters, rainbow socks, rainbow pens. I painted my room myriad colors, much to my parent’s dismay. I even wore rainbow make-up. Sometimes…I still do. Although, as I approach 30, I’ve learned to embrace more earth tones. Whatever, I still like me some purple eyeshadow! Rainbows are just FUN. They are fair, you know? Not neglecting any color, any shade. Everything is represented! Equal rights. Well, turns out, rainbows are a good way to eat your fruits and vegetables. I knew I was onto something… (but put those Skittles down, girl.)

This recipe comes from years of trial and error. And by error, I should specify that there is no bad way to make this salad. It’s just a matter of preference, as most of my recipes are! Haven’t gone to the market in a week? No problem. This is a simple and nutritious recipe, and once you have the BASE down, you can literally throw anything in it.



  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa of your choice (my favorite is tri-color, you know, for the colors)
  • 3 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 1 cup cherry or mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • Half of a cucumber, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped or cut lengthwise into “noodles”
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 2 slivered shallots
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes
  • 10 baby carrots or 2 regular sized carrots coarsely chopped
  • 12 kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste. I prefer Himalayan salt crystals


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice squeezed from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Serves six to eight.

This whole recipe takes about 25-30 minutes. Go ahead and cook the quinoa. Usually 12-15 minutes does the trick, but check your packaging, of course. Dice the shallots very finely then add a smidgen of olive oil to a pan, swirling it around. Place the shallots on low heat, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa and shallots are cooking, chop up your carrots, zucchini, cucumber, olives and tomatoes. Set them aside in a large bowl. Pour the pine nuts into the veggies, and then measure out your sun dried tomatoes and add those to the bowl, as well. Add your arugula.

Juice our lemon into a separate small bowl, then add the ACV with olive oil and dried oregano. Whisk until frothy.

Once cooked, allow the quinoa to cool for 5 minutes with the lid on. Take the lid off and cool for another 5 minutes. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the salad in it, and pour the dressing on. Take the sautéed shallots off the burner and then add the turmeric and the garlic powder. Mix with a large spoon and add salt and pepper to your liking. Give it a good taste before you serve it to adjust the spices as you like it!

I love this meal because I can make it for dinner, and then easily have a lunch out of it for the next two days. I use it as a main dish, but it can certainly be a lovely side dish to a baked sweet potato, corn on the cob or a salmon steak, depending on how hungry you are. The protein and fiber in the quinoa really pack a punch!

Other great additions to add (or subtract) to this dish are: bell peppers, green onions, goat or feta cheese, slivered almonds, sprouts, pea shoots, apples, dried cranberries, avocado, artichoke hearts, etc. Really, whatever you may have in your cupboard! If you were really feeling adventurous, or if it was all you had, you could make this with farro, barley, or couscous as the base. They all work! This meal is what I make when I am really stretching myself for another trip to the grocery store. That’s why it’s always good to have frozen veggies on hand! I buy them even when I don’t need them because I know, at some point in the near future, I will!

What are your favorite “rainbow” combinations in food?

  • Miranda

    Another great quinoa salad – can’t wait to try it!! My friend introduced me to this one, when we were training for a race together, as we needed the extra carbs with the yams (and it’s even more delicious the 2nd day):

    1/2 cup quinoa (cook it then put it onto a tray and let it cool down. Putting it outside works pretty great.)
    1 big yam
    2 grated carrots or 1 grated beet
    1 or 2 cans of chickpeas
    A whole bunch of chopped snap peas
    A whole bunch of sliced cherry tomatoes
    1 diced red/yellow pepper
    1 or 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
    1 cup corn kernels (fresh corn is best, esp. if you can get the raw kernels off the cob straight into the hot quinoa)
    2 avocados
    1/2 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds

    Toss the yam in olive oil and sea salt before I roast it for about 20min at 350.

    For the dressing, throw all ingredients into a mason jar and shake up.
    3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp Maille Dijon
    1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 cup olive oil

    Throw it all together!!

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      OMG Miranda, that sounds so yummy! I love the recipe for the dressing too…. nom! That’s what I love about these salads- you always have a ton of leftovers, (and soooo right, next day is always better…!) it’s beyond filling (with nothing but fuel!) and you can mismatch and throw in so many different varieties! This combo sounds amazing though- I am not training for a race, but I would totes eat this anyway! :0)