Vegan Lunch: My Favorite Quinoa Confetti Salad

quinoa confetti salad

Your comments on yesterday’s post were so beautiful. Thank you all for helping me to articulate what I was trying to say, and sharing your insights with me.

Earlier this year, I started sharing some of my student lunchboxes with you. I didn’t think you’d be all that interested, but many of you said that the posts were incredibly helpful. Sometimes, seeing a recipe is far less helpful than seeing someone’s process as she throws a meal together.

In keeping with that theme, I’ll now be sharing some of my favorite vegan lunches with Food52. Nothing super fancy, but living proof that vegan lunch can be colorful, creative, and easy to make. Look out for the posts every Thursday that my New Veganism column isn’t running (starting last week). I’ll also be posting the recipes here on CR. I’m not doing my lunchbox posts much these days because I no longer live on campus (huzzah!), but this way I’ll still be sharing my midday meals with you.


Let’s start with my quinoa confetti salad. This one is a standard in my home, though I don’t only eat it for lunch. It’s also a frequent breakfast and a sometimes dinner.

The salad changes as the seasons and the contents of my fridge change, but the basic formula is always the same: 2 to 4 cups of cooked quinoa, whatever chopped veggies and/or beans I’ve got hanging around, 2 tablespoons of hemp, flax, or olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and pepper. I like to finish it with an extra drizzle of hemp oil and a big hunk of avocado, which I then mush into the salad.


The salad pictured here is a mix of kale, peppers, radishes, and black beans. I served it atop fresh, farmer’s market spinach–such a crunchy delight.

If you batch cook quinoa over the weekend, throwing this salad together is incredibly easy. And of course, you can add whatever suits you (toasted seeds or nuts are particularly good) and use other grains, too.

Enjoy it–and here’s to more vegan lunch!


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Categories: Meal Sized Salads, Salads
Method: Oven
Ingredients: Chickpeas, Quinoa
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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  1. Gena,
    I’m sorry but this question has to do with your raw granola that I found a few days ago. Very new to cooking raw so not sure about the buckwheat groats. I soaked them but not sure if I have to dehydrate them also before adding to the recipe when all will be dehydrated together. One web sight said dehydrate for 8 hours. Seems a bit much if I am going to do it again when mixed. Thanks this sight has been so helpful to my new found love of fixing raw foods.

    • Hey I’ll jump in here — I’ve got buckwheat granola in the dehydrator right now in fact. Haha. Anyway… I like to soak it (just long enough so that it fully absorbs water and plumps up, really only about an hour) then drain & rinse, and let sit in a strainer over a bowl for about a day and rinsing every couple hours.

      You can skip this step if you don’t have time. Anyway, after you’ve let it sit out sprouting, add your flavorings. I think Gena’s chocolate granola recipe uses date paste mixed with cocoa powder (choco date paste!) and has some other nuts/fruits thrown in as well. The easiest thing is to make date paste (dates plus water blended) and coat the sprouted groats in it. THEN dehydrate. They’ll sprout a bit more while in the dehydrator, before they dry out.

      The batch I have in right now is groats coated in raw cinnamon applesauce – just apples and cinnamon blended smooth. Not sure if this will be as good as the date paste version, but we’ll see. 🙂 Good luck!

      • The total shortcut way: soak groats for an hour. Drain, rinse well. Coat generously in date paste. Dehydrate at 115 overnight. Breakfast. Even without sprouting time, the groats will sprout a bit anyway in the dehydrator as I said above. Buckwheat sprouts so fast, especially in warm weather.

        I LOVE this in almond milk as cereal. It’s pretty sweet alone but you can add more fruits, dried fruits, nuts etc. In a pinch I just douse it in stevia and it’s still awesome.

    • Dawn, you can soak them & then dehydrate them with any other fruits, nuts, agave, etc. you plan to add to the granola. This makes a lovely, chunky sort of granola that’s fun to eat as well. Have fun!

  2. What a pretty salad! 🙂
    On another random note, I was wondering if you had any thoughts/knowledge on this new sweetener that popped up at my local market–“monk fruit in the raw”? It touts itself as the new all-natural 0-calorie sweetener…hmm.

  3. Happy belated birthday! I wish I caught that post in time to wish you well on your actual day! I love, love, love quinoa at lunch time. One of my go-to lunches is quinoa (which I usually mix with a little bit of coconut oil and sea salt), raw red bell pepper, cucumber, carrots, and a big scoop of hummus. Of course the hummus gets mushed into everything, just how you mush your avocado. So good!

  4. This looks super! Also looks like the kind of lunch I can pack and take to work–I’m super excited for your Food52 column to give me more ideas on those!

  5. Superrr happy belated birthday, Gena!! 😀 Confetti is definitely called for. Lots of it. Not to mention the fact that Quinoa takes it to another level altogether…Perfect idea for a class or post-call meal 🙂

  6. This quinoa bowl pretty much epitomizes my ideal summer lunch.. Quinoa is such a airy/light grain that it just seems to scream ‘summer’ and over a bed of farmer’s market greens – does it get any better? In fact, as I write this I am eating a similar greens/grain bowl – which I think is a rip off of one you originally featured with peas. I use quinoa, edamame, basil, lemon, oil, and hemp seeds – prob. my most frequently eaten summertime lunch bowl. So, so good!

  7. Happy belated birthday, Gena! I’ve been loving quinoa salads lately, but adding avocado is always a good idea 🙂

  8. This quinoa salad looks so delicious. I love it when you add avocados on your recipe. I will definitely make this salad during the weekend. Thanks a lot! 🙂

  9. I always enjoy your Food52 posts -it’s a great site generally too.

    I’m a big fan of these kind of lunch salads, very similar to what I would make at the weekend to last me a few days during busy university term time.
    I love all your additions and often do some chopped fresh fruit (apples, mango etc.)or dried fruit too (raisins, dried apricots, cranberries) 🙂 Yum yum.

  10. Yummy yummy YUM!! Just tried quinoa for the first time last night in a porridge style. Love the texture of quinoa, but it seems like it would better compliment savory dishes instead of sweet ones, so I’ll try this one next!!

  11. I love going over to food52 and seeing your recipes! Although I’m not 100% vegan (trying to slowly adapt again after a year of eating animal products and having horrendous ibs all the time) its so great to see all your recipes. I love how veganism is becoming more mainstream and accepted. It also reminds me how when eating vegan you actually began to eat so many more previously neglected foods than less!

    • I owe you an email, darlin! So glad that you’re easing back toward more vegan food, and I hope it alleviates some of the GI distress 🙂

  12. I’m all for any method of Gena sharing more about the joys of veganism with the people of Food 52, yay for your increased presence there! I gotta say that try as I might, I’m still not in love with quinoa. Mushy has never been my thing.

  13. Well see yes perhaps if you mush the avocado until it’s not so chunk-chunka-chunk then maybe I would trust you on this.

    But do you know what’s even better than this confetti salad of yours? The tempeh you made. Holla.


      • Swear, if there hadn’t been the promise of future collard wraps, I’d have pinched the lot that first night it came out all warm and scrumptious from the oven. You’re a wizard.