You’ll discover a myriad of exciting flavors and textures in this quinoa chickpea salad with candied pepitas, blackberries, apricots, and feta cheese. 

Close up of a quinoa and chickpea salad with pepitas, blackberries, apricots, and feta.

There’s nothing boring about this quinoa salad! It covers all the bases: lots of protein in the quinoa, chickpeas, and feta; plenty of crunch in the red onions and candied pepitas; juicy purple blackberries and chewy sweet dried apricots; bright flavors of fresh mint and parsley; and a standout homemade vinaigrette. Every bite is so satisfying!

This salad is a feast for the eyes and tummy, and nutritionally, it’s a powerhouse. Every ingredient has attributes that contribute to a healthy diet. You can and will literally feel really good about eating this quinoa chickpea salad. Each one cup serving has only 257 calories. Your body will thank you, and so will your tastebuds! 

Whether you serve quinoa salad as a meatless main dish, a hearty side salad, or a fantastic lunch, it’s sure to please. Make a homemade muffin to accompany it. I like Pumpkin Bran MuffinsCornbread Muffins with Herbs and Cheddar, or Healthy Apple Bran Muffins

Colorful quinoa salad in a white bowl with a black spoon.

About this quinoa chickpea salad:

There’s a few steps involved in making this salad but they’re easy, and you can truly have this salad made in less than a half hour if you hustle. For make ahead ideas, keep reading.

Tip: make at least a double batch or more of the pepitas because they’re so “snackably” tasty! (I know, I just made that word up!) Just saying, otherwise, you may end up with none for your salad. Unless you have more self-control than I do.

You might want to check out roasted pepitas: 8 different flavors for even more snacking. Toast the pepitas until they’re a deep golden brown for ultimate flavor.

Close up of a salad in a white bowl comprised of quinoa, chickpeas, feta cheese, red onion, blackberries and more.

What’s in quinoa salad?

  • Quinoa (you can cook it ahead if you like, you’ll need 3 cups of cooked quinoa – you can also freeze cooked quinoa)
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Dried apricots
  • Fresh blackberries
  • Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), toasted with honey, olive oil, and a dash of cayenne
  • Red onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh mint leaves and fresh parsley
  • Homemade white wine vinaigrette

Overhead view of a colorful quinoa salad.

How to make this quinoa salad recipe your own:

While we think this salad is perfect, it has lots of different components so there are endless ways you can customize it, depending on your preferences, or on what you have in the house. Feel free to experiment and try different combinations. I promise it won’t hurt my feelings! In fact, here’s a few suggestions:

  • Add spinach leaves or finely chopped kale if you’d like to up your greens intake for the day.
  • Substitute pistachios or sliced almonds for the pepitas.
  • Play around with the fruit. Blueberries, strawberries, or cherries would be great alternatives. Dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins could take the place of dried apricots.
  • Try blue cheese, goat cheese, or gorgonzola instead of feta cheese. Tiny cubes of manchego or asiago would also be yummy.
  • Looking for more of a Mediterranean twist with tomatoes, cucumber, and olives? Try this recipe from Jo Cooks — it’s dressed with a lemon vinaigrette that sounds great!

Quinoa and chickpea salad, very close up view to show texture.

Storage and Make Ahead Tips

Leftover salad? It will keep in the fridge in a covered container for a couple of days. If you think you won’t be serving all of it, reserve the pepitas in a separate container to retain their crunch. I reserve the blackberries as well so they don’t turn the salad purple.

Tired of sandwiches for your lunch? Pack quinoa salad in individual containers for lunches. You’ll be glad you did!

Make Ahead

Cook and cool the quinoa a day or two ahead. I cook a big batch of quinoa and freeze it for later use. Make the pepitas up to a week in advance. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Mix the dressing ahead and store it in the fridge. Shake it well before using. The salad can be made in its entirety (except for the pepitas) at least an hour or two in advance. It’s good served chilled or at room temp.

Hearty quinoa salad in a white bowl with a black spoon.

Quinoa Craziness

I’m crazy about quinoa so you’ll find lots of quinoa recipes on my site. This versatile seed/grain is healthy, easy to prepare, and is at home in salads, tacos, muffins, soups, and stews. Try:

 

Colorful quinoa chickpea salad with blackberries, candied pepitas, onions, feta, and fresh herbs.

Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Blackberries & Candied Pepitas

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

You'll discover a myriad of exciting flavors and textures in this quinoa chickpea salad with candied pepitas, blackberries, apricots, and feta cheese. 

Ingredients

Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked quinoa)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pepitas

  • ½ cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Salad

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1½ cups)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion, about ½ onion (see note)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced dried apricots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ½ oz)
  • 6 oz. container blackberries

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In medium saucepan, bring quinoa, water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to to maintain gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 to 20 minutes, or until water is nearly absorbed. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Spread on rimmed baking sheet to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast pepitas. In medium sized skillet, mix pepitas with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Over medium low heat and stirring frequently, toast pepitas until golden, about 12 minutes. Immediately remove from heat, and spread out on a plate lined with parchment paper to cool. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine dressing ingredients. Whisk until blended. 
  4. Add quinoa, chickpeas, red onions, apricots, parsley, mint, and feta. Mix lightly until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Immediately before serving, add blackberries and pepitas, and toss to combine. 

Notes

  • Soak onions in ice water before adding them to the salad. It’s optional, but it takes the strength of them down a notch and prevents them from being overwhelming.
  • Add spinach leaves or finely chopped kale.
  • Substitute pistachios or sliced almonds for the pepitas.
  • Blueberries, strawberries, or cherries would be great alternatives to blackberries.. Dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins could take the place of dried apricots.
  • Try blue cheese, goat cheese, or gorgonzola instead of feta cheese. Tiny cubes of manchego or asiago would be yummy.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 679mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 16gProtein: 8g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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