This quinoa carrot spinach salad is refreshing, yet hearty! It’s made with nutritious quinoa and chickpeas, as well as tender roasted carrots. The carrot chili vinaigrette is a sweet, spicy dressing that you can double and use on all of your salads and bowls.

Quinoa, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette | The Full Helping

Greetings, friends, and happy Cinco de Mayo. There are lots of fiesta-worthy dishes I could have made and posted today–enchiladas, tostadas, or one of my many varieties of guac. Instead, I’m taking an oblique route and offering you this lovely quinoa salad. It’s not a traditional Cinco de Mayo dish, but it does incorporate some heat (chili, jalapeno) and some cumin, both of which evoke Mexican cooking. It also features these gorgeous, cumin-dusted roasted carrots, which are delicious enough to be worthy of a post.

Roasted Carrots

My favorite part of this dish is, not surprisingly, the carrot chili vinaigrette. I’m a dressing fanatic (I may have more flair for dressing than any other type of recipe), and for me, dressing makes or breaks a salad. This dressing is a keeper. It’s got it all: saltiness, sweetness, and plenty of spice. It brings the whole salad together, highlighting the sweet roasted carrots and brightening up the nutty quinoa.

For the greens in this salad, you could use spinach, arugula, or even mizuna. I stuck with spinach because it’s in season right now and because there’s usually a bunch of it hanging out in my fridge, but feel free to use your imagination. Romaine would work very nicely, too.

Quinoa, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette | The Full Helping
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Quinoa, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup carrot juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple or agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 carrots (trimmed and scrubbed)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and stems, lightly packed)

Instructions

  • To make the dressing, place the carrot juice, vinegar, lime juice, syrup, salt, and chili powder in a blender and blend till smooth. With the motor of the blender running, drizzle in the oil, until the dressing is creamy and emulsified. Set the dressing aside.
  • To make the salad, preheat your oven to 400F. Rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve until the water running through it runs clear. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, along with 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the quinoa and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the quinoa for 13 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, cover it again, and let it rest off the heat for five minutes before setting it aside.
  • While the quinoa cooks, toss the whole carrots in the oil and cumin powder. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle them generously with salt. Roast the carrots for thirty minutes, or until they're tender and browning, stirring halfway through.
  • To prepare the salad, place the cooked quinoa, baby spinach, and chickpeas into a mixing bowl. Toss them together with about half of the dressing. Check the salad for seasoning and add more dressing (as well as a dash of salt, if desired). Divide the salad onto plates and top each with three roasted carrots and a sprinkle of cilantro. Alternately, you can chop the roasted carrots and toss them in the salad along with the other ingredients. The salad will keep for two nights in the fridge. Extra dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Quinoa, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette | The Full Helping

I do so love the roasted carrots in this recipe, but you can make a shortcut version of the salad on any busy night by replacing them with a cup or two of raw, grated carrots in the salad instead. It’ll be a delicious and slightly more streamlined version of the salad.

I’m personally happy that I made enough of this dish to give me lunch leftovers today. Steven knows that I tend to be conservative with heat in my cooking, and he told me last night that he loved the kick in the quinoa, which I took to be a good compliment. And a sign that I’m becoming just a little more adventurous with my food.

I hope you all enjoy the dish–maybe with an ice cold drink and a nice bowl of guac and veggies. Happy May 5th, friends, and I’ll be back soon.

xo

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    13 Comments
  1. For this recipe did you buy a carrot juice from the store? I can actually make carrot juice in my kitchen so can I use my own instead for this recipe? I try to avoid store bought juices because they’re loaded with sugar and preservatives.

  2. For this recipe did you buy a carrot juice from the store? I can actually make carrot juice in my kitchen so can I use my own instead for this recipe? I try to avoid store bought juices because they’re loaded with sugar and preservatives.

  3. This looks so good! And this dressing… yum. I think the sauce is the best part of any meal. 🙂

  4. I love the sound of that dressing! I’ve been using carrot juice in smoothies lately — à la Julie Morris — but in a dressing is a new thing for me.

  5. The dressing with carrot juice sounds great! Love the use of the different ingredients in it… must try it soon….

  6. The carrot chili dressing sounds absolutely divine! And those roasted carrots look amazing, too. Can’t go wrong with perfectly roasted carrots!