Spring Salad: Cilantro, Lemon, Quinoa, and other goodness

This salad is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. Seriously. I’ve made it twice in the past month, and while that may not sound like a lot, it is considering how disorganized I am when it comes to grocery shopping! I can never remember to buy all of the ingredients to make an actual dish. Hence my accidental (but tasty!) substitution of arugula for spinach at the last minute.

The recipe is very slightly adapted from the one on this page which was in turn adapted from this recipe which was adapted from this one over here. (I’ve made the “original” version, too. It’s a little bit off). So who really knows who came up with this recipe. That’s the beauty of the Internet: there’s no way to prosecute people for plagiarism.

You will need…

For the salad:
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chopped spinach OR arugula (approx.)
1 bunch cilantro (approx.)
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1 can chickpeas/garbonzo beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado, cut into small pieces

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon + zest of that lemon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried yellow mustard
salt & pepper
Juice of 1 lime


1. Start with the quinoa. Bring the vegetable broth to a broil in a covered pot & then add the quinoa. Turn heat down. Let the quinoa simmer gently for about 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid. Be sure to stir occasionally.

spinach/onion, and lemon dressing

2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop a bunch of spinach & cilantro together in a food processor. Put in bowl. Then chop the onion with the garlic & add to greens. Drain & rinse chickpeas, then add to bowl and stir. When the quinoa has cooled, stir it in as well.

3. For the dressing, combine everything in a little bowl and stir it all together. It will be very tangy, but don’t worry–this counteracts the taste of the spinach and/or arugula. As you can see, I was lazy and used the tablespoon to mix everything together instead of a proper utensil. Pour the dressing over the greens, onions, and quinoa and mix well.


4. Chop up about a cup of cherry tomatoes and cut an avocado into fairly small pieces. Mix those into the bowl as well, and as a final touch, squeeze the juice of a lime over the whole thing.


It does taste better if you let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes so the ingredients have a chance to cool down, but if you’re like me and can barely stand to take one photo before diving in, I don’t blame you!

I realized after the fact that this recipe is both vegetarian AND vegan. I don’t really pay much attention to that, but if you have either a natural or an acquired aversion to meat and/or gluten, then you can still eat this! Yay!

P.S. I apologize if the photography seems a bit rushed–G. and I were very hungry! Next time I’ll try to be as stylistic as my lovely friend Monica who runs the adorable food blog “Pass the Cocoa.”

17 thoughts on “Spring Salad: Cilantro, Lemon, Quinoa, and other goodness

  1. Yummo – looks very appetizing. Your recipe sort of reminds me of a fancy take on Tabouli. I know what I wish I was having for lunch 🙂 I’m definitely going to try out your recipe 🙂

  2. This looks great! I’d like to eat more quinoa but never know how to prepare it in a tasty way. Plus I’ll eat anything with avocado in it. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Haha I used to be reaaaaaally skeptical of quinoa and couscous because they were (and still are) “trendy health foods.” But it turns out that I really like both of them, and they’re cheap (along with polenta), and sometimes it’s nice to eat something besides pasta 🙂 But speaking of pasta, I think this could also be tasty if you made it with regular noodles!

  3. This looks delicious and healthy. I really enjoy quinoa and can’t wait to try this once we get some nice tomatoes. I think this will be a great dish to bring to a summer picnic or BBQ. Thanks fit sharing!

    1. Yes, it has a ton of flavor and I think it would be popular at a summer BBQ or picnic! Though it’s not super-filling, so you might want to double the recipe if that’s the case. Also, Trader Joe’s usually has a good deal on cherry tomatoes if you have one nearby. Thanks for commenting!

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