My Arugula Quinoa Salad Recipe is the perfect salad to go alongside dinner or to make as part of your meal prep for the week. With peppery arugula, nutty quinoa, juicy cherry tomatoes, salty feta cheese and Sicilian olives, all smothered in a wholegrain mustard and lemon salad dressing, this salad is bright, fresh and delicious!
Arugula, also known as rocket in Australia, is a leafy green vegetable that adds a peppery flavour to salads. I have used baby arugula, which is slightly less peppery than older arugula. It pairs perfectly with a slightly sweet dressing and creamy feta. I adore using arugula in salads, like in my Beetroot Salad with Goats Cheese, Prosciutto, Fig & Goat Cheese Salad, Butternut Squash & Quinoa Salad or my Golden Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad Recipe.
This cold quinoa salad is dressed with a wholegrain mustard dressing, which is similar to my Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing except that I use lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar.
For more quinoa recipes, I would definitely recommend trying my Quinoa Porridge!
What's To Love About Arugula Quinoa Salad
While fresh and light, this salad provides a heap of nutrients, which will help to fill you up (no one goes hungry around here!). Pair with your favorite protein for a full meal or serve as a healthy side dish.
- allergy friendly - this recipe is gluten free and can easily be made nut free by using sunflower seeds instead of flaked almonds or my crispy chickpeas. It can also be made dairy free by using a dairy free feta cheese.
- simple ingredients - find all of the simple ingredients for this recipe from your local grocery store.
- great for meal prep - make this healthy salad ahead of time and divide between individual containers for delicious and healthy grab-and-go lunches throughout the week.
- protein-packed quinoa - quinoa is a highly nutritious food and is a great source of plant-based protein, providing all essential amino acids.
Ingredients Notes & Substitutions
Find all of the salad ingredients below including any notes and possible ingredient swaps. The full list of ingredient quantities are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. You will need the following ingredients:
- Baby arugula - also known as rocket, this peppery green is high in nutrients like dietary fiber, Vitamin C, K & A, Calcium, Potassium and Folate. It's best eaten fresh and doesn't seem to have as long a use by date as other leafy greens. I would recommend buying the day of or the day before using. You can use other leafy greens in this salad like baby spinach or mixed leafy greens.
- White quinoa - I prefer to use regular white quinoa for this recipe however, you can also use red quinoa or tri-colored quinoa if that's what you prefer. Quinoa is a pseudo grain, meaning it is not actually a grain but a seed, however has similar nutrients to a grain. Quinoa is gluten free.
- Lebanese cucumber - Also known as a Persian cucumber or Middle Eastern cucumber. You can swap the cucumber for another crunchy vegetable like red bell peppers.
- Cherry tomatoes - I have used a cherry tomato medley that has yellow, black and red cherry tomatoes. You can also use grape tomatoes in this recipe.
- Hard feta - I have used a hard, Australian Feta for this recipe. Firm Greek feta would also be perfect in this recipe. To make this a vegan salad, swap the feta for a vegan feta.
- Flaked almonds - to make this recipe nut free, you can use pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds or crispy chickpeas in place of almonds. If you would like to use a different nut you could use toasted hazelnuts or walnuts.
- Sicilian olives - Sicilian olives are a green olive. You can swap for any other green olives or even Kalamata olives.
- Fresh dill - I love fresh dill in this recipe, however fresh mint would also go perfectly.
Salad Dressing Ingredients
For the salad dressing you will need:
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh lemon juice
- honey (or maple syrup)
- cracked black pepper
- sea salt
- wholegrain mustard (seeded mustard)
How to Make Quinoa Arugula Salad
Prepare the Quinoa
The first step to making this easy salad is to rinse the quinoa. This is to remove the saponins from the quinoa, which can reduce nutrient absorption. Because we want maximum nutrient absorption, we rinse the quinoa!
Add the cup of quinoa to a medium saucepan. Cover with water and swirl around with your hand to rinse. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and then return to the saucepan. Repeat this process another three times.
To cook the quinoa, add the water to the pan with the uncooked quinoa. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil. Place a lid on the saucepan crooked, to let some steam out. Continue to boil until the water is almost all absorbed by the quinoa. At this point turn the quinoa off and place the lid on properly. Allow to steam for around ten minutes. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature before using as hot quinoa will wilt the arugula.
Make the Lemon Dressing
Next, make the dressing by adding the mustard, honey, salt and lemon juice to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking until the dressing is smooth and well combined. Set aside.
Assemble the Salad
To assemble the salad, add the rocket, cooled quinoa, sliced cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes to a large bowl. Pour over ⅔ of the dressing and toss to combine.
I like to transfer the quinoa and arugula mix to a serving platter if serving to guests. Otherwise you can just add the feta, olives, flaked almonds and dill to the salad bowl and toss to combine.
If serving on a serving platter, add the quinoa and arugula mix to the serving platter. Start to layer on the thinly sliced feta and olives. Add some extra pieces of halved tomatoes and cucumber for presentation and then top with fresh dill, flaked almonds and drizzle over the remaining dressing.
Tip: If making this salad for meal prep, divide all of the salad ingredients between four - six airtight containers. Divide the dressing between four-six smaller containers and place into the salad containers. Dress the salad just before eating as this keeps the arugula fresh for as long as possible.
What to Serve With Arugula Quinoa Salad
Some proteins that go really well with this salad include:
- lemon herb grilled chicken breast
- grilled or baked pork chops
- gourmet sausages
- rib fillet
- Atlantic salmon or snapper
Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge. The salad will last for longer in the fridge if the dressing is kept off until serving. Salad with dressing will last around 1-2 days in the fridge, salad without salad dressing will last 3-4 days.
- 120 grams arugula
- 1 cup white quinoa
- 1 ¾ cups water
- 140 grams hard feta cheese cut into thin triangles
- 120 grams sicilian olives pitted
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes mixed colour, halved
- 1 Lebanese cucumber thinly sliced
- 60 mL olive oil
- 40 mL lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons wholegrain mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Pour the quinoa into a medium sized saucepan and top with water. Swirl around with your hand and rinse through a fine mesh sieve. Tip the quinoa back into the saucepan. Repeat this process another two times.
- Add the rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan along with the water. Place the lid on and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid begins to reduce. Turn the heat to low and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed (around 8 minutes). Turn the heat off and leave the lid on the pan, allowing the quinoa to steam for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooling, make the dressing. To make the dressing, add the mustard, honey, sea salt, cracked black pepper and lemon juice to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly start pouring the olive oil into the bowl while whisking. Whisk until the dressing is well combined, smooth and glossy.
- To a large bowl add the arugula, cooked and cooled quinoa, thinly sliced cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes. Top with about two thirds of the salad dressing. Toss to combine.
- To serve, transfer salad to a serving platter. Begin layering the thin feta slices and olives. Top with fresh dill and flaked almonds. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top of the salad.
StorageStore leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. If meal prepping, leave the salad dressing off until ready to eat so that the salad lasts longer.
Serving SuggestionsServe alongside:
- gourmet sausages
- grilled Atlantic salmon, chicken breast or pork chops
- poached chicken breast
- steak or lamb