Not into hearty kale and chard, but want to keep salad on the menu during the cooler months? This warm quinoa salad is free from greens, but contains zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots for a punch of vegetable color and nutrition. The quinoa is light and fluffy like rice, but provides more protein and even a little dose of calcium! The pecans are the icing on this quinoa salad “cake,” adding heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and dairy-free richness. Plus, this recipe is naturally vegan, dairy-free (of course!), gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free, and egg-free, so you can feel good about serving it to almost all of your guests and loved ones.
This quinoa salad recipe and photo was originally shared with us by the Georgia Pecan Commission, but the recipe has been adapted slightly for clarity.
Note that quinoa can have a slightly bitter coating. Rinsing helps, but I often lose some of those tiny grains through the holes of my fine mesh sieve. To combat this, if I’m planning ahead, I soak the quinoa for a few hours (up to overnight) before draining and rinsing. It will take slightly less time to cook with this preparation, too.
If you can’t find quinoa locally (though it can easily be purchased online), or if it is simply out of budget, then you can substitute another gluten-free whole grain such as brown rice or my personal favorite, millet.
As zucchini and yellow squash fade out of season, you can substitute hearty winter vegetables, like diced butternut squash, beets (though you may end up with pink grains!), or parsnips for a heartier quinoa salad.
Special Diet Notes: Confetti Quinoa Salad
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.
For nut-free confetti quinoa salad, you can omit the pecans, or swap in your favorite seeds – we like pumpkin or sunflower with the rosemary.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup diced zucchini
- ½ cup diced yellow squash
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)
- ¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- ¼ cup toasted pecan halves, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted pecan halves, for garnish
- Heat the oil in large skillet.
- Add the carrot, zucchini, yellow squash, and garlic, and cook until crisp tender.
- Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary, and chopped pecans.
- Season the quinoa with pepper and salt, to taste.
- Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.