A brightly-colored superfood salad that’s gently spiced and chock full of flavor, Curried Quinoa Salad turns an ordinary lunch into an extraordinary one. Or, round out your party menu with something for the health nuts in your family. They’re going to love it!
Whenever I resolve to eat healthy, it’s especially crucial to have a collection of easy whole-grain salad recipes at my disposal. On weekends, I make big bowls of jazzed-up salads that resemble the selection at the fancy deli in my neighborhood.
I experiment with color, texture, and flavor. It’s the best way to make me enthusiastic about eating so many vegetables every day!
This gluten-free, vegetarian quinoa salad recipe has it all: bright yellow curry and turmeric, loads of dried fruit and nuts, and my favorite ancient grain, quinoa.
Then it’s all dressed up in a curry yogurt dressing with a splash of red wine vinegar; it’s fluffy, creamy, and just plain fun to eat.
Making extra Curried Quinoa Salad for a hectic week ahead? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What is curry powder made of?
Curry powder is usually a mixture of turmeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and pepper, and can be bought in mild, medium or hot strengths. A good-quality Madras style curry powder works fine for making this salad.
If it’s spicier than you might want, just remember that the yogurt will temper the heat.
Because I make quinoa salad so frequently, I keep a jar of homemade curry powder in my pantry just for this recipe.
If you’re feeling adventurous and you’d like to make your own, by all means, do!
Here’s the curry powder recipe I use; just adjust the amount of cayenne to fit your personal taste.
- 4 tablespoons ground coriander
- 4 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground chilies (optional)
One at a time, add everything to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake up. Stays fresh for up to 3 months. (Yields about 2/3 cup curry powder.)
Is quinoa gluten-free?
Yes, all varieties of quinoa are safe for gluten-free diets.
Why do you have to rinse quinoa?
For starters, quinoa can be very bitter if not rinsed properly before it’s cooked, due to something called saponins. If you’ve ever stayed away from quinoa because of the bitter taste, this is why.
Saponins are bitter compounds that are naturally present in quinoa—along with lots of other legumes, vegetables, and herbs. They get their name because they lather up a bit in water, like soap suds.
As soon as you rinse the saponins away, you’re left with an amazing, great tasting superfood that can be cooked and added to soups, salads, or eaten on its own.
How to cook Quinoa in a rice cooker:
Another reason I love quinoa is that it cooks really fast on the stovetop.
However, if you need a totally hands-free way to cook quinoa using that rice cooker you have in the cupboard, here’s how to do it:
- First, rinse your quinoa briskly under running water, using a fine-mesh sieve.
- Then, pour the quinoa and water into the rice cooker.
- Add salt if desired and turn on the rice cooker, (using the “white” rice button if your cooker has it).
- It will be done cooking in about 30 minutes.
- Finally, fluff the quinoa up with a fork.
What else can you add to Curried Quinoa Salad?
Above all, this recipe for curried quinoa salad with almonds and cranberries is totally flexible. Once you get the basics down, you can improvise according to what suits you.
Maybe you’ve got cilantro, but can’t find scallions? Go ahead and switch it out. You might even like it better!
Some other Curried Quinoa Salad recipe inspirations:
As far as amounts of these ingredients go, start with a handful, mix it in, and taste. Add more if you think you should.
- With grapes: slice up red or green seedless grapes to mix in.
- With cucumbers: cooling cucumber goes so well with fresh mint.
- With mango: mango makes everything better!
- With chickpeas: double up the protein and add cooked chickpeas for extra energy.
- With chicken: make it a meal and add rotisserie chicken
- With shredded red cabbage: finely chopped red cabbage stands up to the curry yogurt dressing.
- With currants: Zante currants in place of cranberries taste great.
- With toasted cashews: because who doesn’t love cashews?
- With kale: certainly, a handful of finely chopped dark green kale means things are about to get even healthier.
- With golden raisins: sweet golden raisins make this salad shine.
Can you make vegan Curried Quinoa Salad ?
Certainly! Just switch out your favorite dairy-for yogurt, like Cashewgurt or a coconut-based brand- that might be delicious! When you try it, let me know how it tastes in the comments below.
Curried Quinoa Salad
- 2 cups dry quinoa
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt Greek or regular
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup grated or finely diced carrots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- Using a large, fine-mesh sieve, rinse quinoa thoroughly under cold water first; this gets rid of any bitter taste.
- Bring 4 cups water to boil. Reduce heat to low, stir in quinoa, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine olive oil, yogurt, red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Whisk until smooth.
- Add yogurt sauce to quinoa and stir until evenly coated. Add carrots, cranberries, almonds, red onions, mint, and scallions and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.