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This bright and hearty quinoa salad has a delicious Mediterranean flavor with a variety of tastes and textures. It’s made with fresh vegetables, fluffy quinoa, nutritious chickpeas, arugula and lots of parsley, all tossed in a tangy lemon-garlic dressing. Enjoy this easy to make protein-rich vegan salad all summer.

High Protein Quinoa Salad side view of the salad in a bowl with olive oil behind

I make this salad frequently, especially in the summer. Since it stays fresh for many hours unrefrigerated it’s the perfect salad to enjoy at the beach with friends or to bring to a party. It makes a filling, satisfying vegan lunch, or a great side dish for dinner. 

Chickpeas and quinoa are great sources of plant based protein. There are 9 grams of protein in each serving.

High Protein Quinoa Salad in a large serving bowl

Why You’ll Love This Quinoa Salad

  • Lots of Tastes and Textures – crunchy peppers, juicy cucumbers, soft peppery arugula, savory parsley and the tangy lemon-garlic dressing give the salad a fresh clean taste you will love.
  • Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly – the salad is naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
  • Great For Meal Prep – it’s easy to prepare, stores well, and makes great leftovers.
  • Travels Well – perfect to bring along to the beach, picnic or even camping.
  • High in Fiber – The quinoa, chickpeas and vegetables all contain lots of healthy fiber which keeps your digestive system running smoothly.
  • Full of Protein – the quinoa and chickpeas will fill your body with the protein you need to stay full and satisfied for hours.
High Protein Quinoa Salad 2 bowls of salad with napkin, olive oil and parsley

Ingredients and Substitutions

The ingredients are simple and can be found in any supermarket. It’s a versatile salad you can adjust to your own taste.

For the Salad

  • quinoa – white, red or mixed, cooked.
  • chickpeas – canned or homemade.
  • red onion – scallions or shallots can be substituted.
  • red bell pepper – yellow peppers or tomatoes can be substituted. If using tomatoes remove the seeds.
  • cucumbers – long English cucumbers or small Persian cucumbers have thin skins and very few seeds but traditional cucumbers work fine too.
  • parsley – flat leaf has the most amount of flavor. Cilantro can be substituted.
  • arugula – I like the slightly pepper taste. Spinach can be substituted.
  • sea salt

For the Lemon Garlic Dressing

  • fresh lemon juice
  • garlic
  • dried oregano or thyme
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
High Protein Quinoa Salad ingredients

Steps and Tips to Make the Quinoa Salad

These are the basic guidelines, and a few good tips. Detailed directions are in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Cook the quinoa. It’s best to rinse it before cooking. Quinoa grows with a natural coating called saponin that protects it from fungus and pests and it has a bitter taste.

Step 2: Prepare the dressing. While the quinoa is cooking mix together the lemon juice, garlic, salt oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. I like to add the red onions to the dressing and let them marinate a little which tames the raw taste, but it’s optional.

Step 3: Add the quinoa to the dressing. Once the quinoa is cooked add it to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine and allow the quinoa to absorb the lemon dressing. Let it cool completely before adding the vegetables. You can put it into the refrigerator to cool faster.

Step 4: Prepare the vegetables. While the quinoa is cooling chop the vegetables except the arugula. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, then cut into quarters and slice. Leave the skin on, it contains lots of vitamins and minerals but peel if not organic. Chop the parsley and measure. If you’re using canned chickpeas rinse them thoroughly in a strainer.

Step 5: Mix everything together. Once the quinoa is cool add the vegetables, parsley and rinsed chickpeas. Let sit 5 minutes and taste to adjust salt.

Step 6: Add the arugula. Coarsely chop the arugula and add it to the quinoa right before serving for the freshest taste. But don’t worry, the salad will stay fresh for 3 days even after you add the arugula.

High Protein Quinoa Salad all the vegetables chopped with quinoa lined up in a bowl ready to be mixed

Storing the Quinoa Salad

The salad will stay for 4-5 days in the refrigerator without the arugula. It actually gets better the longer it sits because the flavors have more time to meld together. Once you add the arugula it will stay for 3 days.

It’s the perfect salad to make 1 or 2 days in advance for a party, but wait until you’re ready to go to add the arugula. It will have a fresher taste.

Serving Suggestions

This salad makes a great high-protein lunch. If you’re not vegan, topping it with a little feta cheese is a nice variation.

For a vegan dinner, serve the quinoa salad as a vegan summer main dish with grilled zucchini or marinated barbecued tempeh or grilled portobello mushrooms.

This quinoa salad makes a fabulous summer side dish with fish or chicken. Serve it with grilled ginger chicken, grilled blackened salmon, or grilled squid.

You’re going to love this delicious, nutritious high protein quinoa salad. It’s incredibly flavorful with mediterranean flavors. It’s an easy to make salad with quinoa, chickpeas, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, arugula, lots of parsley and a bright lemon-garlic dressing.

If you like this recipe you may also enjoy these other quinoa salads.

High Protein Quinoa Salad over head shot on salad in a bowl.


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This salad was lovingly adapted from Cookie and Kate.

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High Protein Quinoa Salad

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  • Author: Ingrid DeHart
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


This bright hearty quinoa salad has a delicious mediterranean flavor with a variety of tastes and textures.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 1 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped (leave skin on if organic)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula coarsely, chopped

Lemon Garlic Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Place quinoa, 1¾ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt into a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, to give it time to fluff up.
  • While the quinoa cooks, prepare the lemon dressing. In a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice, garlic, oregano and sea salt. Let sit 5 minutes, whisk in the olive oil.
  • Add the chopped red onions, to marinate a little which tames the raw taste. This step is optional, you can add the onions later with the rest of the vegetables if you prefer.
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to thoroughly combine and allow the quinoa to absorb the lemon dressing. Let it cool completely before adding the vegetables.
  • While the quinoa is cooling prepare the vegetables: Chop the pepper. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise then into quarters, and then slice. Chop the parsley and measure. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  • Once the quinoa is cool, add the chickpeas, vegetables and parsley, but not the arugula.
  • Toss until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Season with black pepper to taste, and add an extra pinch of salt if necessary. Let the salad rest for 5 minutes.
  • Add the arugula right before serving.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 4-5 days without the arugula, 2-3 days with the arugula. (see note above).
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Salad, Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

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