You’ll love the crisp green Brussels sprouts shredded into this exciting vegan quinoa salad with dried apricots, sunflower seeds, and pepitas. The homemade vinaigrette is fabulous!
Why you’ll love it: This salad keeps well in the fridge and is great for lunches.
How long it takes: 55 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sauce pan, large bowl, small skillet
Servings: makes about 12 cups
This vegan quinoa salad has so much going for it, you’ll want to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know I do! This salad has just the right elements to make it appealing all day long.
Shredded emerald green Brussels sprouts provide a crisp counterpart to filling quinoa, with chewy sweet bits of dried apricot, vivid orange carrot ribbons, and nutty seeds. Dressed with a mildly sweet but tangy maple vinaigrette and subtly flavored with cardamom, the salad is so flavorful, not spicy-in-your-face, but gentle and interesting.
Whether you are vegan or not, whether you’re a quinoa fan or not, whether you love Brussels sprouts or not, I know you’ll love this salad because the sum total of all the parts is so delicious!
About this salad
You could call this vegan quinoa salad a “Buddha bowl” or grain salad. This type of salad is so popular and with good reason. It’s:
- nutritious (packed with healthy grains, vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts)
- filling (lots of protein and complex carbs that stick with you)
- easy to make
- versatile (use what you like or happen to have in the house)
- portable (great for lunchboxes or picnics)
- keeps well in the fridge
- never boring (lots of different elements in every bite).
I’ll run through the recipe here to get you started. Look for lots of extra helpful tips :)
You’ll find the printable recipe card near the bottom of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Quinoa: I almost always have cooked quinoa in my fridge or freezer. This gluten-free grain (actually it’s a seed) can be used to make quinoa salads, quinoa soup, quinoa stews, quinoa tacos, and even quinoa pancakes! We love this vegetarian quinoa chili with black beans. Quinoa is easy to prepare, mild-tasting, and freezes well.
- Vegetable Broth: Using broth to cook the quinoa adds more flavor but water can be substituted. Look for low-sodium or no-salt-added broth.
- Dried Apricots: Dried fruit adds chewy bits of sweetness to the salad. Golden raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries are good substitutes.
- Pepitas and Sunflower Seeds: You’ll be toasting the seeds for the salad so look for raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds.
- Brussels Sprouts: Trim the sprouts, removing the tough stem and outer leaves. Shred the sprouts with your food processor slicing blade or slice them thinly with a sharp knife.
- Carrots: The carrots add a lot of color and sweetness to the salad. Use a vegetable peeler to make beautiful ribbons of carrot.
- Red Onion: Soak the sliced onion for 10 minutes or so in ice water to remove some of the sharp flavor if you like. Green onions are a good substitute.
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped parsley adds lots of herbaceous flavor and emerald green bits of color, not to mention that it’s good for you.
- Homemade Vinaigrette: This easy-to-make vinaigrette is good on all sorts of salads. You’ll need apple cider vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, coarse ground mustard, ground cardamom, salt and pepper. Cardamom adds a unique flavor that you’re going to love. It really makes this salad stand out!
How To Make This Recipe
For this salad, I recommend cooking the quinoa with vegetable broth to add even more flavor. Add the chopped dried apricots right to the pan so they soften a bit as the quinoa cooks.
Shredded Brussels sprouts are the next big component of this salad. You can use a food processor to shred the sprouts (use the slicing blade), or just slice them very thinly with a sharp knife. Employ your vegetable peeler to make beautiful orange carrot ribbons. Weirdly, I think it’s kind of fun to make carrot ribbons.
Add thinly sliced red onion to provide crunch and just a bit of sharp flavor. Soak the sliced onions for ten minutes in ice water so your salad isn’t overpowered by onion flavor.
Toast the seeds first in a small skillet for optimum flavor. If you don’t have both kinds, no problem. Just use one or the other, or another nut of your choice. Sliced almonds are really great.
Throw in a handful of chopped parsley, stir up the vinaigrette, and mix it all together. It’s ready to eat right away or store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
Make It Your Own
Like I mentioned above, grain bowl salads are endlessly versatile. If there’s something in this salad you don’t like, leave it out. Go ahead and substitute (or add) all your favorite things. My mom loves to add gorgonzola cheese, and I often add feta cheese.
- Add more protein. Cheese, chickpeas, even chicken could be added to the salad.
- Substitute finely chopped cabbage, spinach, or kale for the Brussels sprouts.
- Instead of seeds, use toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
- Replace the dried apricots with another dried fruit, such as golden raisins, dried cranberries, or cherries.
- Try a different grain: farro, brown rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), or couscous (which is really a pasta, not a grain).
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
The entire salad can be made at least a day in advance. Store it in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to a couple of days. Quite honestly, this salad doesn’t last long at my house!
Or, prepare the elements of the salad and store them separately. Cook up the quinoa, shred the Brussels sprouts, make the carrot ribbons, toast the seeds, make the dressing. Stir them together just before serving.
Grain salads & Buddha bowls
Excited about vegetarian grain salads that make your taste buds sing and your body happy? So am I! Try:
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Feta
- Quinoa Salad with Avocado Dressing and Pinto Beans
- Southwestern Farro Salad Recipe with Poblanos
- Quinoa Bowl Recipe with Roasted Tomatoes, Ricotta and Balsamic
- Farro Salad with Za’atar, Broccoli and Feta
- Kale Salad with Farro and Honey Dijon Dressing
- Quinoa and Wheat Berry Salad
- Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing
- 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa (or 4 ½ cups cooked quinoa)
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- ½ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
- ⅔ cup untoasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds
- 16 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
- 1 or 2 carrots, cut into ribbons with vegetable peeler
- ½ large red onion, sliced or chopped (see note)
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- Combine broth, quinoa, and apricots in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Spread the quinoa on a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast pepitas and sunflower seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Immediately transfer to a plate to cool.
- Whisk vinegar, oil, maple syrup, mustard, cardamom, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add the cooled quinoa, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, and parsley; stir to combine. Salad can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to one day.
- Just before serving, mix in pepitas and sunflower seeds. If desired, reserve some for garnishing the salad.
- Makes about 12 cups.
- If desired, add cheese. Feta, gorgonzola, blue cheese, or goat cheese are good choices.
- Substitute finely chopped cabbage, spinach, or kale for the Brussels sprouts.
- Instead of seeds, try toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
- Substitute a different grain: farro, brown rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), or couscous (which is really a pasta, not a grain).
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.