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  • Food: Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

This quinoa salad is exactly what I need for a satisfying lunch.

It is healthy and satisfying, topped with raw broccoli that has been blanched, pesto that has a lemony flavor, crispy chickpeas, crunchy vegetables, and avocado.

What do you often wind up preparing for lunch or supper when you can’t decide what to cook in the first place? The magnificent quinoa salad is always there for me when I need it.

Because I typically keep some quinoa in the refrigerator or freezer (it’s important to note that quinoa freezes remarkably well).

it’s not difficult for me to throw up a salad like this one at the very last minute. Quinoa salads are an adaptable way to highlight the changing of the seasons, and this particular recipe is my humble offering to celebrate the arrival of spring.

For this recipe, I gave some gorgeous broccolini a quick blanch before tossing it with quinoa, kale, fresh mint, roasted chickpeas, avocado, and my absolute favorite part: crisp slices of watermelon radish.

You need not worry if you are unable to locate watermelon radishes because red radishes that have been cut thinly will deliver the same sharp bite. In addition, if you are unable to locate broccolini, normal broccoli can be substituted with success.

Food: Broccoli Quinoa Pesto Salad (Source: Love and Lemons)

I just toss everything in lemon juice and olive oil, and then I finish the salad off with large dollops of my favorite pesto made with lemony peas.

This recipe for kale and quinoa salad has the ideal combination of features that are creamy, crunchy, fresh, and hearty, and to me, it is the definitive spring dish because of its vibrant colors and flavors are lemony and herby.

Quinoa Salad Meal Prep Tips

This dish is perfect for a dinner that is light and healthful, while still being rather full. If you are lucky enough to have some leftovers, this dish is perfect for making ahead meals.

If you choose to create this salad in advance, successful meal preparation requires only that you follow a few basic steps:

  • Do not cut the avocado into slices until just before you are ready to serve it. Avocados, much like bananas and apples, may oxidize, or turn brown, if left out in the open. They have the potential to turn bitter as they brown, which is not something you want in your lunch. Hold off on eating them until the very end if you want wonderfully creamy and green bites.
  • Keep the pesto in a separate container. The pesto can be seasoned to taste and its consistency can be adjusted before it is served if it is stored in a different container from where it is served. If it is too thick, add a little more olive oil and stir it in, and if it lacks brightness, add a little more lemon juice and stir it in.
  • Taste and adjust. Always give the grain salad you made in advance a taste test before presenting it to others. Due to the fact that the grains absorb the dressing, I find that on days 2 or 3, they frequently require additional lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, or additional salt & pepper.

You can either prepare and refrigerate individual servings in advance (I like to use these glass containers), or you can toss everything together in a large bowl and bring this salad to a spring party or picnic!

Quinoa Salad Variations

You can use any combination of vegetables and herbs you choose in this recipe.

You could substitute arugula or spinach for the kale, or you could add asparagus that has been blanched or snap peas. Either of these would be excellent additions.

You can give it an extra crunch by topping it with your favorite nuts or seeds (pepitas are a good option), and if you’re not vegan, a tiny bit of feta would be a wonderful finishing touch.

Try substituting baked tofu or tempeh for the chickpeas if you’re not a fan of those legumes.

Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 15 mins
Time Required: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3 to 4

This quinoa salad is perfect for a wholesome meal for lunch or evening. It is vegan, gluten-free, and loaded with nutritious ingredients such as kale, roasted chickpeas, crisp vegetables, and brilliant pea pesto.


  • 1 bunch broccolini, or broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 3 large kale leaves, chopped (about 3 loose-packed cups)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
  • 2 heaping cups of cooked quinoa
  • 1 watermelon radish, or 3 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ½ cup mixed fresh herbs, I used mint and dill
  • 1½ cups Roasted Chickpeas
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemony pea pesto

  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach or sub basil
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, or sub basil or mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more if desired


  1. Make sure you have a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove, as well as a large bowl filled with ice water. Place the broccolini into the water that is boiling, and blanch for approximately a minute, or until the broccolini is tender but the color of the green is still brilliant. In order to halt the cooking process, immediately place the broccolini in the ice water for one minute. Drain, then put to the side.
  2. Prepare the lemony pea pesto by combining: Place the hemp seeds, peas, garlic, and salt in a food processor, and pulse the ingredients together until they are completely incorporated. After pulsing the ingredients for the first time, add the spinach, dill, lemon juice, and mustard. Olive oil should be drizzled in while the food processor is in operation. If you want your pesto on the runnier side, just keep adding olive oil until it reaches the consistency you want. Taste it, then adjust the seasonings as necessary.
  3. Place the kale in a large bowl, and then add the olive oil, pinches of salt and pepper, and lemon juice to the bowl. Toss to combine. Applying pressure on the leaves in this manner will cause them to become more pliable. Place equal amounts of quinoa, watermelon radish, avocado, herbs, and broccolini into individual serving bowls. Add more olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and season to taste with pepper. The roasted chickpeas should be added, and the dish should be served with dollops of pea pesto.