Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad - Real Food Whole Life

Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad

May 6, 2015 (Updated on December 29, 2021)

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This Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad makes a perfect lunch, dinner side, or vibrant addition to any brunch table.

A few weeks ago I traveled to Boulder for a beautiful baby shower brunch in the Colorado mountains. The brunch spread was fresh and vibrant, full of gorgeous salads and fresh veggies. Everything on the table was delicious, but I particularly loved the curried quinoa salad. It was bright, earthy, and packed with crunchy fruits and veggies. It was also perfectly lovely served at room temperature, making it a perfect salad to make ahead and serve a crowd.

After the shower I reached out to Maihaa from The School of Natural Cookery, who catered the shower, to see if she would share the recipe. She graciously responded with a list of ingredients and cooking method, which I adapted into a recipe to share here. As a side note, if you’re interested in learning more about The School of Natural Cookery you can check out their in-person and online training options here.

Since first testing this recipe I’ve been eating it for lunch frequently, since I can make a big batch to have on hand in the fridge and to take on-the-go. If you’re a nurse, teacher, work in an office, or drive your kids all over the place during mealtimes you’ll want to add this to your on-the-go lunch arsenal. It’s packed with healthy fats from the olive oil and seeds, plus tons of fiber from the fruits, veggies and quinoa. There’s also protein in the quinoa, but you can always add chickpeas, a hard boiled egg, or grilled chicken for some extra protein to make this a substantial meal.

The Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad can and should be make ahead of time, as it needs at least an hour to absorb the dressing. It’s best served at room temperature, so it works wonderfully as part of a brunch spread or as a potluck dish. It’s also a great option for many as it is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. It also makes a perfect summer dinner side to grilled veggies, meat or fish. My guess is that it will become a your spring and summer go-to, so grab the ingredients and make this salad today!

One more side note to this recipe: The baby for which the shower was thrown was born this week to my childhood best friend. She and her husband welcomed a perfect baby boy and we could’t be more excited. Welcome to the world little G, we can’t wait to meet you!

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Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad

Yield 6 -8 as a side; 3-4 as a main dish

This Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad makes a perfect lunch, dinner side, or vibrant addition to any brunch table.


  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 small cloves garlic minced
  • 1 English cucumber diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 small green apple diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers diced (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves thinly sliced
  • ¼-½ cup roasted and salted sunflower or pumpkin seeds for serving


  • Rinse the quinoa. Combine rinsed quinoa with the curry powder, salt, and 4 cups cold water in a large pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 18 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit, covered, an additional 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl make the dressing by combining the olive oil, vinegar, salt, lemon juice and zest, and garlic, whisking until well combined.
  • To the dressing add the diced cucumber, apple, and peppers. Add the warm quinoa and stir until well combined. The mixture will be on the wet side. Let sit at least an hour for the dressing to absorb and flavors to develop.
  • Stir in the basil, then cover and chill for, or serve with a sprinkling of sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
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12 comments to " Crunchy Curry Quinoa Salad "

  • Kathryn J

    I’ve just arrived from reading Lauren’s post today on Elle & Co. Your website is beautiful and your recipes are making me feel hungry! I like the look of this quinoa recipe. I bought a packet of quinoa sometime ago and didn’t have a clue how to make it interesting, so I’m pinning this recipe to try next time. It looks yummy, thank you! 🙂

    • Robyn Downs

      Kathryn, that’s fantastic! I hope you’ll try the salad. Always fun to try new things. I’m so glad you stopped by! 🙂

  • Zoe

    I finally got around to making this dish and LOVED it plus my hubby who has not shared my love for quinoa up to now loved it as well so adding this recipe to my arsenal. Thanks for posting!!

  • Megan

    Made this last night and it was so delicious! I subbed arugula for the basil. I’ve already passed the recipe along to several friends. Thanks for all the barre3 challenge inspiration!

    • Robyn Downs

      Megan, ohhhh, I love the arugula swap for basil! Definitely making it that way next time. Thanks for sharing the recipe, and yay for the last week of the Challenge!

  • Susan P

    This was delicious and so easy! One tip: after you let the quinoa sit in the pot for five minutes after cooking, spread it out on a sheet pan for at least 15 minutes to cool down- that way your fruit and veggies won’t lose any of their crunch! I made a half recipe since there are only two of us-I wil make again! Thinking of using celery instead of cucumber and walnut instead of pepitas but I do love the combo as is!!

    • Robyn Downs

      Susan, thanks for the tip–such a great idea to let the quinoa cool prior to adding the veggies. I love the celery/walnut idea, too. May have to try it that way next time! 🙂

  • Tyler

    Hands-down the most delicious Quinoa recipe I have ever tasted. Very simple to make and kept great all week for lunch between classes. Adding some more apple next time cause it was such a great combo with the curry quinoa!

  • MICHELLE Hanson

    Thanks for the recipe Robyn. I have a small family gathering this weekend and I’m going to make a version of this. I have a nut/seed and apple allergy so I’m thinking of doing dried cranberries or red grapes or even blueberries could work. Can’t wait to play around and report back. 🙂

    • Robyn Downs

      Michelle, I think cranberries or grapes or blueberries would all work equally well. I hope it’s a hit–def one of my favorite things to bring to gatherings. Cheers!

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