As we journey farther into the warmer months, I can’t think of anything more crave-worthy on a sunny day than easy to make fresh salad recipes filled with seasonal produce.
After savoring the bounty of the fall and winter months in my Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Black Bean Corn Salad and Thai Quinoa Salad recipes it only made sense to create another mouthwatering quinoa recipe that is perfect for the warmer seasons.
I love coming home after a late morning of picking produce and throwing together a simple, but an impressive meal with little effort. And since I almost always have tomatoes and cucumbers in my fridge, this simple quinoa salad recipe is often on our weekly spring menu. Packed with healthy fats (aka a ripe avocado), this main dish worthy salad is a great option when you need something that is quick, easy and healthy.
If you’ve tried any of my other quinoa salad recipes, like my Southwest Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad, Lentil Quinoa Salad, Kale and Quinoa Salad and Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas you’ll love this light, but satiating and delicious Quinoa Avocado Salad recipe.
Why I Love This Recipe:
There is so much to love about this Quinoa Avocado Feta Salad recipe, but if you need some convincing here are a few reasons why it deserves a spot on your table for dinner tonight. It is:
- Perfect way to use cooked quinoa: If you are like me, always include quinoa as a part of your weekly meal prep, this salad is a perfect way to use it. And no worries if all you have is uncooked quinoa. I have got you covered. Simply follow my foolproof method for cooking quinoa for perfectly fluffy quinoa every time.
- Ready in 30 minutes: There is a little bit of chopping that needs to be done, but other than that it is pretty easy to make.
- Can be adapted to any special diets: As it is written, this hearty quinoa salad is gluten free and vegetarian but it can easily be made vegan by simply omitting cheese.
- Minimal ingredients for maximum flavors: It is made with just a few every day ingredients that can be easily found any time of the year.
I love that this simple quinoa salad with avocado can be enhanced with just about any protein source and an array of toppings to suit even the pickiest of palates.
This recipe uses fresh baby spinach leaves and cooked and cooled quinoa as a base. It is topped off with a mix of sliced cherry tomatoes, diced mini cucumbers, green onions, baby bell peppers, red onion, creamy avocado, and crumbled feta cheese for added flavor and variety.
In the end, it is drizzled with a bright, citrusy lemon salad dressing, which happens to be my go-to easy recipe for quinoa salads. It does a great job to bring the whole dish together.
How to Make Avocado Quinoa Salad?
As long as you have about 10-15 minutes of time to slice and chop the individual elements for your salad, you’ve already done the hard part. All that’s left to do is to bring your masterpiece together.
To make this Summer Quinoa Salad with Avocado:
Here’s how to assemble:
- Cook the quinoa: I used my stove top quinoa method to cook the quinoa. To do so, place 1 cup rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with two cups of water over high heat. Cover pan, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and let it cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 12 minutes or so. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before fluffing it with a fork. Alternatively, you can follow my microwave quinoa, instant pot quinoa or rice cooker quinoa recipes to cook your quinoa.
- Make the lemon vinaigrette: In a small mason jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds to emulsify.
- Assemble the salad: Start with baby spinach leaves at the bottom of a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients; quinoa, sliced bell peppers, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado, on top.
- Dress The Salad: Drizzle it with the lemon vinaigrette and give it a gentle toss.
- Finish it with Feta cheese: Add in the optional crumbled feta cheese, taste for seasoning and add, if necessary. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
Variations and Ways to Serve:
There are plenty of ways to switch up the ingredients to make it perfect for your personal taste.
- Quinoa: You can use any variety of cooked quinoa that you like or have on hand. You can make it a red quinoa salad with avocado, or use white or tricolor quinoa if you prefer.
- Greens: If you don’t have spinach on hand or prefer to use something else, this salad tastes delicious with other leafy greens as well. Try using a lighter option like arugula, butter lettuce or make a hearty kale quinoa avocado salad if desired. You can also omit the greens and serve this as more of a quinoa avocado bowl for a main course or side dish recipe.
- Cheese: I used feta cheese, but mozzarella, crumbled queso fresco, or even shredded cheddar cheese would work.
- Protein: This salad works well with a variety of protein sources too. If you want to add some bulk to your quinoa creation, you could add seared yellowfin tuna, baked bone in chicken breasts, grilled chicken (as I did it in this Southwestern Chicken Salad), or even sliced steak on top.
- Lime Dressing: If you want to switch things up, try my chili lime dressing to turn this into more of a Southwestern-inspired salad. Or you can follow my lemon dressing recipe but swap lemon juice with fresh lime juice for more of a lime flavor.
- Add fresh herbs: If you have on hand, feel free to sprinkle it with fresh parsley or fresh cilantro for a next level quinoa salad recipe.
Can I Make This Salad Vegan?
Absolutely! It’s simple to make this cold quinoa salad vegan. Simply omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese-style product instead. You could also incorporate other vegan proteins like diced tofu or chickpeas if you desire.
Make-Ahead & Storage Instructions:
- To make ahead: You can indeed make this salad a day in advance and store it in your fridge. In fact, it tastes even better the next day, after the flavors of the vinaigrette have had time to meld together with the rest of the ingredients.
If you’re worried about the avocado browning, you can even store the different elements of the salad separately. Simply prepare all of the ingredients (minus the avocado) in advance. Store them in individual containers in your fridge until you’re ready to use them.
When it’s time to assemble it, you’ll have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to go. All you’ll need to do is add the avocado, toss the salad together, and serve.
- Best way to store: Store your prepared salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days for the best results.
- Let it rest before serving: If you have the time, I highly recommend letting it sit for 30 minutes covered in the fridge. This way all the ingredients will get a chance to mingle and marinade in the lemon dressing.
- Be gentle when tossing the salad: Since baby spinach leaves are pretty tender, so be gentle when tossing the salad. I use a pair of salad tongs to avoid bruising the leaves.
- Chop all the ingredients finely: While this salad comes together in minutes, taking the time to chop all the ingredients finely will ensure you get a taste of all the fresh produce with every bite.
More Healthy Salad Recipes:
If you liked this healthy quinoa salad with avocado, below are a few other quinoa salads that I know you will love:
- Kale Quinoa Avocado Salad
- Lentil Quinoa Salad
- Southwestern Quinoa Salad
- Greek Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas
- Quinoa Tabouli
Quinoa Avocado Salad Recipe
For The Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa tricolor, white, red and black quinoa would all work
- 2 cups water chicken stock or vegetable broth would also work
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt optional
For The Dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 small clove of garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For The Salad:
- 2 cups baby spinach rinsed and drained
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 2 Persian cucumbers peeled and cut into small cubes
- 3-4 colorful baby bell peppers or 1 bell pepper sliced thinly
- ½ red onion about ½ cups, chopped or 3 stalks of scallions
- 1 ripe avocado cut into small cubes
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled (optional) or fresh mozzarella or crumbled queso fresco
- Make the Lemon Salad Dressing: Place olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar. Put the lid on and give it a shake.
- Assemble the salad: Place spinach, cooked quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, baby bell peppers, onion, avocado, and cheese in a large salad bowl.
- Gently Toss: Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Give it a gentle toss and serve.
- Serve cold or warm? You can serve this quinoa salad either warm or cold. If you decide to serve it cold I recommend cooking the quinoa a day in advance of making sure to cook it before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients.
- Make ahead instructions: You can indeed make this salad a day in advance and store it in your fridge. In fact, it tastes even better the next day, after the flavors of the vinaigrette have had time to meld together with the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Want to make it a vegan quinoa salad? Simply omit the feta cheese.
- Best Way to Store: Store your prepared salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days for best results. If you’re worried about the avocado browning, you can even store the different elements of the salad separately. Simply prepare all of the ingredients (minus the avocado) in advance and store them in individual containers in your fridge until you’re ready to use them. When it’s time to assemble it, you’ll have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to go. All you’ll need to do is add the avocado, toss the salad together, and serve.