Arugula Quinoa Salad Recipe

A bowl of arugula quinoa salad sprinkled with dried cranberries and pieces of pecans.

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This arugula quinoa salad is made with quinoa, peppery arugula and a zesty lemon vinaigrette. Adding pecans and dried cranberries is optional but the sweet and crunchy flavors are so delicious, you shouldn't skip it!

As written, this recipe has a balanced amount of arugula and quinoa. However, you can choose to add more or less arugula and more or less quinoa, it's your choice. Adding more arugula will make it a leafier green salad. Adding more quinoa will make it a heftier quinoa salad with just a little bit of leafy greens mixed in. 


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 2 large handfuls arugula (about 3 oz)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted almonds or pecans, roughly chopped


  1. First, make the lemon vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, shallot, Dijon mustard, and salt. Whisk in the olive oil until combined.  If the dressing is too tart for your taste, then whisk in 1/2 teaspoon honey. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa and arugula. Season lightly with a pinch of salt. 
  3. Drizzle half of the lemon vinaigrette over the top, tossing well to coat the quinoa. Taste the salad, then add more dressing if it needs more flavor. 
  4. Top the salad with dried cranberries or cherries and either roasted salted almonds or pecans, roughly chopped.


Quinoa Cooking Instructions

White, red or tri-color quinoa can be used for this salad. Warm quinoa wilts the arugula and makes it limp. To keep the arugula fresh, make sure the cooked quinoa has completely cooled before you add it to the salad.

To make quinoa in an Instant Pot, follow these instructions for easy Instant Pot quinoa. To make quinoa on the stove, follow the instructions on the package or combine 1 cup quinoa with 1 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let it sit covered for 10 more minutes before serving.

For the best results, don't cook less than 1 cup of dry quinoa. Cooking 1 cup of dry quinoa will make about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. This will give you plenty for the salad. This recipe calls for only 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, but you can add more if you want a salad that has more quinoa in it than arugula. 

What to do with leftover cooked quinoa? If can be frozen for up to 3 months and defrosts quickly in the refrigerator. You can also add it to other green salads or toss it with roasted vegetables. You can also add quinoa to soup or stew.

Salad Variations

If you're not in the mood for nuts and dried fruit, you can take the flavors of this arugula quinoa salad in a different direction. Choose one or more of these ingredients  to make an arugula salad that has Mediterranean flavors: crumbled feta or goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, bell pepper.

You can change the ratio of quinoa and arugula in the salad by adding more or less of either one. 

Tip: The thin shape of arugula can make it hard to stab with a fork. To make it easier to eat, use kitchen shears to snip the arugula into smaller pieces.

If you don’t use all of the lemon vinaigrette, it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and can be used on other salads.