Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing

This Quinoa Salad is for those of us who like less lettuce and more flavor. This includes toasty pecans, tangy goat cheese, and Apple Pecan Dressing from my local farmers’ market! 

Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing


Tell Me About This Quinoa Salad

This versatile salad is a home cook’s answer to a novelty salad dressing. Yes, they exist and you’ve likely been gifted a set being the foodie in your family. 

I just naturally gravitate toward the weird and unusual. It’s a welcomed challenge. 

After finding Apple Peacan Dressing at my local farmer’s market, I knew its destiny was a salad. 

But not just any salad.

A quinoa salad. 

Don’t be scared, it’s all flavor, baby! 

This recipe makes a satisfying lunch or as a side to serve alongside meat or seafood. Serve it cold or at room temperature. Quinoa is perfect for advanced prep. Letting the salad sit overnight improves the texture and flavor.

This salad is also prime picnic or potluck material. So mix and match your favorite seasonal produce! 

T 🧡

Ingredients for Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing


Recipe Review

Like many chefs out there, I’m always trying to improve and perfect my recipes. Here’s my review:

What worked:

  • Lots of Fall Flavor: Apple pecan dressing adds an autumnal turbo boost to this salad. What really takes it to the next level is the cinnamon! If you can’t get your hands on any, add a dash of ground cinnamon to a basic vinaigrette. 
  • Super Customizable: This recipe is an excellent blueprint for anything lying around your kitchen. No quinoa? Use rice or farro. No pecans? Use any nut or seed ya got! And the same goes for the cheese and greens. But if you’re really in the mood for a fantastic fall salad, try not to steer too far away from this recipe ; ) 
  • Make-ahead: If you’re hosting a dinner party or going to a potluck this dish is a god-send! Do all the work now, so you don’t have to rush later. 

Suggested Tweaks: 

  • Use White Quinoa: I wish I had used white quinoa, but red was all I had. Not that red makes the dish taste any different. It’s just a color thing. You’ll see the pecans better! 
  • A Pop of Color: Roast butternut squash or pickled red onion, for example, would make the dish look more vibrant. 
  • Add Herbs: Some fresh thyme or parsley would really tie this all together! A final flavor note in this salad symphony 🎶✨

Recipe Inspiration: 

  • Small Victories by Julia Turshen: Her Potluck Quinoa recipe is the perfect foundation for any cool, unusual salad dressing you come by. 


More Salad Recipes

Spinach Salad with Pumpkin Seed Oil

Chicken Salad with Papaya Barbeque Sauce

Pickled Salmon Salad

Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing


  • 1 cup quinoa any color
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves toasted
  • 1/4 cup Apple Pecan Dressing
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt


  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under colder water for about 1 minute. Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium pot with 1 3/4 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is completely absorbed about 15 minutes. 
  • Transfer the quinoa to a baking sheet and spread it out evenly. Let the quinoa cool to room temperature, transfer to a large bowl. (TIP: If you're in a hurry, place the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer.)
  • Add the toasted pecans, apple pecan dressing, and arugula. Toss to combine, then season with salt to taste.
  • Transfer the salad with a serving dish and crumble the goat cheese on top. Drizzle some olive oil on top and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 1 week. 


If you can't find Apple Pecan Dressing, substitute with a maple-flavored dressing. 



Looking for other ways to repurpose your Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing? 

  • Make lunch! Add protein like chicken or beans and some veggies for a more filling dish. 
  • Toss into an omlete or frittata. 



Veganized: Replace goat cheese with preferred vegan cheese. 

Purple Salad: Replace apple pecan dressing with a basic Violet Mustard vinaigrette. Add pickled red onions and a handful of shredded red cabbage. 

Funk & Heat: Replace apple pecan dressing with a Doubanjiang Salad Dressing. Combine quinoa with roasted cashews and blanched green beans. Omit the goat cheese. 


Did you make Quinoa Salad with Apple Pecan Dressing? Let me know how it turned out and leave a comment below! 

Food for Thought

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