Broccoli-Cheddar Quinoa Salad with apples, toasted almonds, and dates in Honey-Mustard Dressing. This easy quinoa salad is nutritious, filling, and perfect for make-ahead lunches.Read more
Why You'll Love this Broccoli Quinoa Salad
My love for a hearty, healthy quinoa salad knows no bounds.
It's perfect for the transition from summer to fall when we start to crave cozier comfort foods but it's also still QUITE warm outside.
I love that this broccoli quinoa salad can be enjoyed warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature. We have already meal prepped it three times just this month, and it's been a lunch savior!
It's hearty enough to enjoy as a full meal, however versatile enough to pair with just about any entree.
Plus, it calls for minimal ingredients, yet delivers BIG flavor and a crave-worthy combination of textures.
- Quinoa: Quinoa gives the salad nutty flavor, along with filling protein and fiber. You can use white, multi-color, or red quinoa for this recipe. White quinoa, however, has the most mild flavor of the three varieties.
- Broccoli: You need 4 cups of broccoli florets, which should be cut quite small. Since the broccoli goes in raw, the smaller florets are easier to chew.
- Cheddar: Look for an aged sharp cheddar for the best flavor. You can either grate the cheese or cut it into small chunks.
- Apple: I prefer the tart sweetness of a Honeycrisp apple in this salad, however any variety will work!
- Dates: For a pop of sweetness and chewy texture, use 3 to 4 pitted dates (such as Medjool). Alternatively, raisins or craisins will work.
- Almonds: Look for roasted, salted almonds, which offer the biggest flavor punch. Alternatively, you can use pumpkin seeds, pecans, or walnuts.
- Dijon Mustard: The key player in a honey-mustard dressing!
- Honey: To balance the bite of the mustard. Alternatively, you can use maple syrup.
- Vinegar: I prefer apple cider vinegar in this dressing. Alternatively, you can use fresh lemon juice.
- EVOO: Extra-virgin olive oil OR avocado oil work great in the dressing.
For a complete list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.
Substitutions and Additions:
- Make Nut-Free: In place of almonds, use roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.
- Make Dairy-Free: Use your favorite brand of plant-based cheesy shreds, or simply omit the cheese entirely.
- Use a Different Grain: I have also made this salad with farro and absolutely LOVED it!
- Add Chickpeas: For extra protein, add 1 can of drained and rinsed chickpeas to the mix, along with an extra drizzle of olive oil.
Step 1: Cook Quinoa in water or broth until light and fluffy.
Step 2: Combine quinoa and broccoli in a large bowl and toss to combine. Let the residual heat of the quinoa soften the broccoli, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare Honey-Mustard Dressing by combining mustard, vinegar, honey, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl or glass jar. Shake or whisk until smooth.
Step 4: Assemble all salad ingredients and pour dressing overtop. Toss to combine, and dig in!
How to Cook Quinoa:
This IS a method to producing perfectly-cooked quinoa. Here's how to do it:
- Rinse first. This removes the outer coating that could make it taste bitter.
- Bring to a boil along with the water. Place water (or broth), quinoa, and salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer.
- Simmer uncovered. Cook the quinoa with the lid off the pan, just like you would pasta.
- Let rest covered. After it’s done cooking, remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes. This helps the grains soak up any remaining moisture, which helps it fluff up!
- Fluff with a fork.
Quinoa salad pairs well with any kind of sandwich, wrap, or soup. You can also enjoy it on its own as a light lunch!
Quinoa salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Because quinoa offers a decent amount of protein and fiber, it's a nutritious option for salads, side dishes, and bowl-style meals.
Quinoa is also considered a “complete” protein, meaning it has all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. Plus, it's naturally gluten free, and rich in magnesium, folate, and other B-vitamins.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe:
- Saucepan with Lid: To cook the quinoa.
- Salad Dressing Shaker: This is one of my most-used kitchen tools for quickly shaking up dressings!
- Mixing Bowls: Love that these are stackable and beautiful colors!
More Delicious Quinoa Salad Recipes to Try:
If you give this broccoli quinoa salad a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Broccoli-Cheddar Quinoa Salad
- Saucepan with lid
- Mixing bowls
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 4 cups small chopped broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup diced Honeycrisp apple (or apple variety of choice)
- ½ cup grated or cubed sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped
- 3 pitted dates, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper
- Combine quinoa, 2 cups of water, and ½ tsp. salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.Place broccoli in a large bowl and spoon quinoa overtop. Toss to combine, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. (The residual heat of the hot quinoa will help steam and slightly soften the broccoli.)
- Meanwhile, prepare Honey-Mustard Dressing by combining all ingredients in a glass jar or large glass measuring cup; shake or whisk well to combine.
- To the broccoli-quinoa mixture, add apple, cheese, almonds, and dates. Pour dressing overtop and toss to combine.
- This salad can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.