Vegan Kale & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Maple Mustard Dressing
4.77 from 17 votes

This vegan kale & quinoa salad with roasted beets and maple mustard dressing is brimming with texture, color, and nutrient-dense plant foods. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main dish, and it’s an especially fun salad to make and share on holidays.

An overhead image of a white bowl, which has been filled with a colorful kale & quinoa salad. The salad also contains roasted beets and green beans.

While I tend to be a salad enthusiast in general, I have a soft spot for kale salads in particular. This kale & quinoa salad with roasted beets, maple mustard dressing, and toasted pecans is one of my all time favorites!

There’s so much to love about a kale salad.

First, there’s the hearty texture. Kale is a tougher green than mesclun, arugula, romaine, or other typical salad greens.

This isn’t a bad thing. If you “massage” kale with a good vinaigrette or other salad dressing, it softens up. That slightly tough texture is transformed into a salad green that’s hearty and chewy, yet also tender.

Kale salads are also nutrition superstars. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense greens, period: it’s packed with iron, fiber, folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C.

When kale is combined with quinoa, as it is in this kale & quinoa salad, nutrition is only multiplied. Quinoa is a good source of plant-protein, along with many other nutrients.

Finally, oven-roasted beets add a beautiful pop of color and still more texture.

The result of all of these ingredients is an especially wholesome, decidedly meal-sized salad. The registered dietitian in me loves the salad’s healthful qualities, while the food lover in me loves its sweet and savory flavors.

An image of a small mason jar, which is filled with a light-brown colored dressing and a tiny whisk.

A sweet & savory dressing

What brings the kale & quinoa salad together—underscoring the sweetness of the beets along the way—is the maple mustard vinaigrette.

This dressing is straight out of my cookbook Power Plates, and it’s one of those dressings that I use again and again. I shared the recipe with my vegan harvest bowls, too.

The dressing began as a vinaigrette, and then one of my recipe testers tried it with tahini in place of oil and raved about it.

I tried it that way, and I liked the two versions so much—in different ways—that I gave both options in the book.

I think the vinaigrette version works better for massaging kale, so it’s preferable for the kale & quinoa salad. However, you can definitely use the tahini version if you choose to avoid oils.

No matter what, the dressing lends a sweet, salty, and slightly savory flavor to the salad.

The savoriness is thanks to nutritional yeast. I recommend using powdered nutritional yeast, if you can, as it’s easier to whisk it into the dressing. But nutritional flakes are fine to use, as well.

The beauty of beets

Simple, oven-roasted beets are probably one of the vegetables that I incorporate often into my vegan meal prep.

I love the sweet flavor of beets. I also love their fiber, folate, and rich concentration of phytonutrients, which may have anti-inflammatory properties.

While I often use red beets in recipes, such as my marinated beets and lentil beet salad, I also love yellow beets!

In fact, I think that yellow, or golden beets are a little sweeter than red beets. They can sometimes be ever-so-slightly more tender in texture, too.

I roast all beets in the same fashion, wrapping them in foil, baking them, and then slipping the skins off under cold, running water.

This spares me the effort of peeling beets while they’re raw, which is a surprisingly laborious task.

Heart-healthy pecans

The salad also benefits from the addition of nutty, crunchy toasted pecans.

Pecans are so versatile and wholesome. Interestingly, they’re also the only major tree nut indigenous to America. Pecans are packed with nutrients, which you can read more about here.

My favorite among pecan’s nutritional highlights are their beneficial, monounsaturated fats and protein. Both of these macronutrients can aid in satiety after meals.

Pecans are also a good source of fiber and contain plant flavonoids, which are a type of phytonutrient. The food lover in me loves their slightly sweet flavor, which works nicely in all sorts of dishes.

While I especially love to create big batches of crispy baked vegan candied pecans, the pecans in this kale & quinoa salad are simply toasted in a dry skillet. I love the simplicity of their nutty flavor and toasty aroma.

How to make kale & quinoa salad with roasted beets

There are certainly some steps involved in making the kale & quinoa salad, but none of those steps are especially difficult.

Step 1: Roast the beets

Roast your beets according to the instructions in this post, then chop them into 1-inch / 2.5cm pieces.

Use golden beets or chioggia (striped) beets if possible. I think their color is especially lovely in the salad!

This step can be done up to a few days in advance of making the rest of the salad. The beets will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Step 2: Cook your quinoa

I always prepare quinoa the same way:

  • A 1:1.75 ratio of dry quinoa to water
  • Thirteen minutes of simmering time
  • Five minutes of steaming after the quinoa is off heat
  • Fluff with a fork

For this recipe, you’ll add green beans to the pot in the last five minutes of quinoa cooking time. This steams the beans and saves you an additional pot for that vegetable.

Step 3: Toast the pecans

Most nuts become toasted very quickly, so this step won’t take long. While it’s possible to toast nuts in the oven, it’s very easy to add your pecan halves to a dry skillet and toast them over a burner—low heat—for five minutes.

An overhead image of a small, black skillet, filled with toasted pecans.
Toasting dry pecan halves in a skillet only takes about five minutes, and it gives the nuts much more flavor than they would have in their untoasted state.

Stir the pecans often, so that they toast consistently and don’t burn.

Step 4: Whisk together the dressing

This is another step in the recipe that can be done in advance. The maple mustard dressing will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to one week.

Step 5: “Massage” the kale

I know that “massaging” is a funny way of putting it, but that’s truly how this step out to feel! Pour the maple mustard dressing over the kale and use your hands to press and firmly work the dressing into the greens.

Note that you won’t immediately add all of the dressing to the kale. One quarter cup will be the right amount for dressing the greens.

The rest of the dressing should be added once you’ve also incorporated the quinoa, pecans, and beets into the mixing bowl.

Step 6: Mix well and serve

Finally, you’ll add all of the ingredients to the mixing bowl, mix well, and plate the salad.

An overhead image of a white bowl, which is filled with a vibrantly-colored kale, golden beet, green bean, and quinoa salad. There are brown pieces of toasted pecan throughout.
Right before serving the salad, you can add additional mini-splash of apple cider vinegar or Bragg liquid aminos as needed.

Right after mixing and before serving, be sure to taste the salad and adjust salt and acid to your liking.

Meal prep & storage

This salad definitely can qualify for making ahead. Kale holds up well, even once it’s dressed, for a few days.

The fully dressed and mixed salad can be stored in an airtight container (or containers) in the fridge for up to three days.

Serving the kale & quinoa salad

This salad qualifies as a power plate, thanks to protein-packed and complex-carb-rich quinoa, plenty of good fats from the pecans, and lots of veggies.

It’s nice for a light lunch, but it’s an even more filling and nutritious meal if you pair it with a cup of vegan soup, a slice of hummus toast, or some baked tofu or tempeh.

It’ll give you four generous servings, or—if you’d like to serve it as a side dish—6 smaller ones.

An image of a white bowl, which is filled with a vibrantly-colored kale, golden beet, green bean, and quinoa salad. There are brown pieces of toasted pecan throughout.
An overhead image of a white bowl, which is filled with a vibrantly-colored kale, golden beet, green bean, and quinoa salad. There are brown pieces of toasted pecan throughout.
4.77 from 17 votes

Vegan Kale & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Maple Mustard Dressing

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


For the salad

  • 1 batch simple oven roasted beets (I suggest using yellow beets or chioggia beets, rather than red, but red beets will work in the recipe, too)
  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed (135g)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (360ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed green beans, cut into 2-inch / 5cm pieces
  • 2/3 cup pecan pieces or halves (80g)
  • 1 small bunch curly kale, stemmed and chopped (about 5 ounces / 150g after preparation)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the maple mustard dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tamari Bragg Liquid Aminos, or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water (if needed)


  • Prepare the beets as directed. Chop the beets and set them aside.
  • Add the quinoa and water to a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the quinoa, and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover the pot and throw in the green beans, then recover and continue simmering the quinoa for 5 more minutes. Remove the quinoa and beans from heat and allow them to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the grain with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to sit until you need it.
  • Place a small frying pan or skillet over low heat. Add the pecan pieces and toast, shaking the pan every 30 seconds or so, until they smell nutty and toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a plate right away (they’ll keep cooking if you leave them in the pan).
  • To make the dressing, combine the oil, maple syrup, mustard, tamari, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk to combine. If the dressing is thicker than you’d like, whisk in the warm water as needed. (Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the dressing will keep for 1 week; it makes ½ cup.)
  • When all of the ingredients are ready, add the kale to a large mixing bowl, along with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup / 60ml) of the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale, rubbing the pieces between your fingers, until the kale is softened and well coated with dressing but not soaked; you'll be adding more vinaigrette in a second!
  • Add the cooked quinoa and green beans, beets, and pecan pieces to the mixing bowl and mix everything together. Keep adding dressing until the salad is dressed to your liking. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper to your liking. If desired, you can add additional vinegar or Bragg Liquid Aminos to taste. Serve the salad.


The quinoa and beets can be prepared up to three days in advance of making the salad. The dressing keeps for a week in an airtight container in the fridge, and can be made 5-6 days ahead of time.

There are salads that are definitely side salads—light, fresh, simple—and those can be lovely.

But there sure is something wonderful about a big, textured, satisfying salad with grains and greens and healthful fats.

This salad is definitely one of those, and I hope that you’ll love it!


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Categories: Recipes, Salads, Meal Sized Salads
Method: Stovetop
Ingredients: Beets, Kale, Quinoa
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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Recipe Rating

  1. 3 stars
    The combination of kale, beets, and nuts are delicious but I didn’t care fot the dressing. Also, putting the beans on top of the quinoa didn’t work. I had to pick the beans out to finish cooking them. I will try this again but with changes to the dressing.

  2. 5 stars
    Gena, this is the best dressing I’ve eaten in my entire life. I have been meal prepping with it for almost a full year. It’s fantastic both cold and hot – on this salad and pretty much anything with kale or cabbage in it (or any other green, for that matter). Thank you for this fantastic addition to my diet.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe rocks! I am normally not a fan of kale, but could eat it everyday and twice on Sunday like this. I halved the recipe and used precooked beets because I was hungry and didn’t want to wait for the beets to roast, and made vinaigrette version of dressing— which may now be my new favorite sweet and sour dressing ever. I will definitely make this again, would be good as a potluck salad, or a side dish for a dinner party. For me, it was a satisfying lunch.

  4. I love the use of mustard in this dressing! I’ve been obsessing over that flavor lately for some reason. Anyway, this looks like a delightful salad that I’ll have to give a try ASAP!

  5. This looks delicious for someone who’s trying hard to switch to a healthier lifestyle. I’m training for a race with SportMe half marathon app and also on a strict diet. Things are going great for now.

  6. I love the use of mustard in this dressing! I’ve been obsessing over that flavor lately for some reason. Anyway, this looks like a delightful salad that I’ll have to give a try ASAP!

  7. I’m trying to find different ways of getting more kale into my diet and this looks delicious. Thank you for sharing 🙂