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This superfood kale and quinoa salad with crisp veggies and lemon-y dressing is fresh, vibrant, & loaded with nutrient and antioxidant-rich ingredients! A super satisfying texture and flavor-packed meal-prep salad to enjoy as a side or main.

completed Kale Quinoa Salad plated on a white surface
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Why You’ll Love This Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

Hearty salads made with ingredients like couscous, farro, and quinoa are top of our list when looking for a low-budget, healthy, nutritious meal to keep you full and satisfied for hours. Even better, this recipe for quinoa kale salad combines clean, powerhouse ingredients for an impressive meal loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Even better, it’s delicious enough that even the kale-wary might be won over thanks to a truly satisfying combination of hearty kale and chickpeas, fluffy, chewy quinoa, crisp cucumber and onion, juicy tomato, fresh herbs, and a bright and zesty (but easy!) lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Best of all, this salad, though not as quick as others (since you’ll need to cook and cool the quinoa first), is still very easy to throw together, highly customizable, and the sturdy ingredients make it a great meal-prep side or main, year-round.

Looking for more hearty vegan quinoa salads? Check out our Southwest quinoa salad, Mediterranean quinoa salad, or healthy quinoa veggie bowl.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Kale Quinoa Salad measured out on a white surface

The Quinoa and Kale Salad

  • Kale: You can use any dark leafy kale like Tuscan, Dinosaur, Lacinato, or curly kale – whichever is cheapest/readily available to you.
  • Red onion: Or white onion/ shallots for a crisp, hot bite. Soak it in the dressing/ice water for 10 minutes to reduce the harsh, raw bite (or use green onions).
  • Cucumber: Use Persian or English cucumbers, which are low-seed and thin peel.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Or mini plum tomatoes to add sweet juiciness year-round.
  • Chickpeas: (garbanzo beans) Use regular or low-sodium canned chickpeas or home-cooked chickpeas. Alternatively, try a white bean, kidney bean, or quinoa black bean salad.
  • Quinoa: Use any color (or tri-color) of quinoa. Similar ingredients, like couscous, wild rice, barley, farro, or bulgur, will also work.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds herbaceous depth. Cilantro and/or dill also work.
  • Croutons: (Optional) to add crunch. Alternatively, you could use toasted pita, a portion of crispy chickpeas, or nuts/seeds, like sliced almonds, pepitas, or chopped walnuts/pecans.

The Lemon Dressing

  • Olive oil: Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil that isn’t overly robust.
  • Lemon: (or lime) A combination of juice and zest adds a bright, zesty flavor.
  • Vinegar: We used rice vinegar, but apple cider vinegar/white wine vinegar works too.
  • Water: To bring this dressing to the correct consistency.
  • Sugar: You could use brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, or maple syrup.
  • Garlic: Garlic power makes this dressing super simple, but feel free to use fresh, minced garlic cloves if preferred.
  • Sea salt & black pepper: To season the dressing.

Optionally add some Dijon mustard, too, for a hint of heat and/or some chili flakes. Alternatively, swap the dressing entirely for something like our basil dressing, avocado green goddess dressing, or miso tahini dressing.

What Could I Add to Quinoa Kale Salad?

  • Starch: Make an even heartier salad like a kale quinoa sweet potato salad with diced and roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin.
  • Other vegetables: Several veg pair well, like shredded carrot or sprouts, broccoli, radishes, beets, bell peppers, corn, etc.
  • Fruit: There are several ways to introduce the natural sweetness of fruit.
    • Pear or apple kale quinoa salad (brush with lemon to avoid browning)
    • Kale quinoa cranberry salad (with dried cranberries. Golden raisins work, too)
    • Quinoa kale pomegranate salad
  • Protein: Like diced tofu, tempeh, or mock meats like vegan chick’n.
  • Avocado: For rich creaminess, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants.
  • Vegan cheese: You can experiment with several types of dairy-free cheese. We particularly like the salty tanginess of a kale quinoa feta salad, but other vegan cheeses work, too.

How to Make Quinoa Salad with Kale and Chickpeas

  • First, if you haven’t already, cook the quinoa, and set it aside to cool.

To speed up the process, spread the quinoa in a thin layer across a tray.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients by draining and rinsing the chickpeas, halving the cherry tomatoes, dicing the cucumber and red onion, and chopping the parsley (if using). Also, chop the kale leaves away from the tough stems and chop into smaller pieces, and zest, then juice the lemon juice.
  • Next, combine all the kale and quinoa salad dressing ingredients (lemon, olive oil, vinegar, water, sweetener, garlic, and salt and pepper) in a small bowl or jar, then shake/mix.

Make sure to taste and adjust any element in the dressing to your liking.

  • Then, add the chopped kale to a large salad bowl with the olive oil (and optionally a pinch of salt) and massage for about a minute to tenderize the leaves. Then set aside.
  • Add the remaining salad ingredients (chickpeas, onion, cucumber, tomato, and parsley) to the kale bowl and toss well. Then, toss in 5 tablespoons of the lemon dressing.
  • Finally, add the quinoa and remaining dressing, to taste, toss, and (if using) garnish with croutons – enjoy!

FAQs

Can I replace the kale?

You could replace the kale with lettuce (like romaine or iceberg), mixed salad greens, spinach, etc.

How to chop kale?

It depends on the type used. However, for any tall kale, first slice the leaves away from the tough stem, then chop it into 1-inch (ish) pieces OR roll them up and slice into ribbons.

Can I enjoy a warm kale quinoa salad?

Yes, blanch or sauté the kale in oil and use warm, freshly cooked quinoa (with or without the cucumber).

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Massage the kale: This is the key to transforming kale leaves from tough and fibrous to a more tender bite while also removing bitterness.
  • For the best flavor: Leave the salad to rest for 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to meld and marinate.
  • Experiment: Have fun experimenting with different add-ins and customizations to fit your flavor and dietary profile.
completed Kale Quinoa Salad plated on a white surface

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy this kale chickpea quinoa salad warm, at room temperature, or chilled – as a side or main meal paired with:

Storage Instructions

Once prepared, you can store this vegan quinoa kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. For the longest shelf life, store the salad and dressing separately.

While the entire salad isn’t freezable, the combination of quinoa and massaged kale is freezable for up to 3 months.

completed Kale Quinoa Salad in a storage container

More Easy Vegan Salad Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Kale Quinoa Salad

5 from 23 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
This superfood kale and quinoa salad with crisp veggies and lemon-y dressing is fresh, vibrant, & loaded with nutrient and antioxidant-rich ingredients! A super satisfying texture and flavor-packed meal-prep salad to enjoy as a side or main.

Ingredients 

Salad

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 cups of chopped kale
  • ½ tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ of a red onion, tiny diced
  • 3 cups of diced cucumber
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups of croutons, optional

Dressing

  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or agave
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Once ready, allow it to fully cool.
  • Once the quinoa has cooled, in a large bowl, add the kale and olive oil. Massage the kale for 1 minute and let it rest while you make the dressing.
  • In a small bowl or jar, add the zest and juice of one lemon, then add the oil, vinegar, water, sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and taste it. Add any more of the ingredients to taste. Set aside.
  • To the bowl with the kale, add the chickpeas, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley. Add 5 tablespoons of dressing and mix well. Add the quinoa and dressing to taste. Mix well and top with croutons if using.

Notes

  • Massage the kale: This is the key to transforming kale leaves from tough and fibrous to a more tender bite while also removing bitterness.
  • For the best flavor: Leave the salad to rest for 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to meld and marinate.
  • Experiment: Have fun experimenting with different add-ins and customizations to fit your flavor and dietary profile.

Nutrition

Calories: 187kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 7gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 59mgPotassium: 433mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2325IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto
5 from 23 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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