This vegetable-packed quinoa salad with apples is nutty, crunchy, and a little bit sweet! Roasted sweet potatoes are tucked into toasty quinoa along with crisp apples, arugula, red onions, and a tahini dressing. Enjoy it as a light lunch or pair it with a protein for a filling dinner.
Why You’ll Love This Quinoa Salad
I love quinoa and chances are you do, too! It’s a complete plant-based protein and works so well in so many dishes from soup to stew to salad or simply served in place of rice. Often classified as a grain, quinoa is a seed that cooks up similarly to rice. It’s perfect served plain alongside a main meal or tucked into salads and made into a meal!
This quinoa salad with apples is a salad of simplicity and it is magically light yet satisfying at the same time. Roasted sweet potatoes (I like to roast ’em good and long so they get a bit caramelized) are tossed with cooked quinoa, chopped apples, arugula, and a hint of parsley plus a handful of sunflower seeds. It’s dressed with a simple mix of apple cider vinegar and olive oil with a few spoonfuls of nutty tahini sauce stirred in. I love that this salad can serve as the main dish or a side dish depending on what you’re in the mood for. And, it’s gluten-free!
What You’ll Need
Here’s a glance at everything you’ll need to grab to make this light yet satisfying salad. The full ingredient amounts and detailed instructions are in the recipe card lower down.
- Quinoa – I prefer white quinoa in this recipe. Make sure to wash it before you cook it to remove any lingering bitterness.
- Sweet potatoes – Or yams, or Japanese sweet potatoes.
- Olive oil – I always use extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and pepper
- Apples – Choose a firm apple to add to this salad. My favorites are Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples for a hint of natural sweetness.
- Baby arugula – If you can’t get baby arugula you could use baby spinach or chard.
- Parsley – Flat leaf parsley is optional but adds a little extra flavor.
- Onion – A red onion is best in this salad, or sub for chopped green onions.
- Sunflower seeds – You can use toasted or raw sunflower seeds.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Tahini – Make sure to stir the tahini well before incorporating it into the dressing.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Quinoa Salad with Apples
- Cook sweet potatoes: Bake the sweet potatoes until soft.
- Make quinoa: Toast the quinoa in a pot with olive oil, then add water and cook.
- Assemble: Make the dressing in a large bowl then add the remaining ingredients including the quinoa and toss. immediately.
Quinoa salad with apples is lovely with sesame-fried tofu for a vegan meal. You could also serve a scoop alongside baked chicken breast. You can swap it for a traditional salad and add more veggies like little roasted potatoes and green beans, then add a piece of halibut. Or, serve it with a cheesy baked macaroni and cheese or pasta dish – it goes well with virtually anything.
Below, find a few suggestions for changing up this salad:
- Add different vegetables. Roasted butternut squash would be a wonderful substitution for the roasted sweet potatoes in this salad! You could also try baby spinach instead of the baby arugula.
- Add pears. If you wish for a slightly different flavor note, you could substitute pears for the apples.
- A different dressing: This salad would be lovely with a lemon-tahini dressing. Swap the apple cider vinegar for freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- With cheese. Throw in some crumbled feta cheese or small cubes of very sharp cheddar cheese.
Other Gluten Free Dinner Ideas
- Coconut Quinoa with Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Gluten-Free Asparagus Quiche
- Halloumi Salad
- Braised Spinach with Chickpeas and Lemon
Quinoa Salad with Apples
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- 1 pound sweet potatoes , about 2 large, cut into ½″ cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- 2 large apples, , diced (use Granny Mmith, fuji, Honeycrisp, etc.)
- 4 cups baby arugula
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley optional
- ¼ of a medium red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons tahini
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and hearty pinches of salt and pepper. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Let cool.
- Put a drizzle of olive oil in a pot and add the quinoa; toast over moderate heat for two minutes. Add 1 ½ cups water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15-18 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, tahini, olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa, sweet potatoes, apple, arugula, parsley onion, and sunflower seeds and toss everything to coat. Serve immediately.