Upgrade your lunch game with this easy-to-make Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Pesto! It's the perfect combination of flavors and textures. The nutty quinoa provides a filling base, while the roasted asparagus and peas add flavorful savory contrast.
Why This Recipe Works
Light and flavorful - This salad is filling but it's also very light and flavorful. Quinoa is packed with protein and it makes a very hearty salad. Arugula adds freshness without overpowering the rest of the ingredients.
Great as a side or main - The salad is hearty enough to be a main but you can also serve it as a side! Try it with roasted fish, chicken, or seafood.
Versatile - It's easy to adjust this salad to your liking or based on what you have in your fridge. It's great on its own but you can also add feta, use couscous instead of quinoa, or add different veggies like cucumber or roasted zucchini.
- Quinoa - Quinoa is packed with protein and nutrients. If you don't have any, couscous would also work great.
- Asparagus - Make sure you snap off the woody ends before chopping and roasting.
- Frozen peas - These are a staple in everyone's freezer. Just add some to the pan with roasted asparagus and you're done!
- Arugula - The spiciness of arugula goes really well with the rich pesto and sweet peas.
- Pesto - You can make your own or use store-bought. I usually go with quality store-bought pesto to save time.
- Pickled red onion - You can buy these but I highly recommend making your own quick pickled red onion! It's super easy and simple.
- Fresh herbs - I'm adding parsley but fresh basil also works and would compliment the pesto well.
Variations and Substitutions
- Feta - Add some creaminess and healthy fats to the salad by crumbling in some feta. Go with a block of feta rather than pre-crumbled feta whenever possible. It's much better quality.
- Cucumber - Diced cucumber would be delicious in this salad, especially on hot summer days!
- Zucchini - Roasted zucchini would be a great addition to this salad or a great summer alternative to asparagus or peas.
- Romaine - If you don't like arugula, finely shredded romaine lettuce is a great alternative.
- Croutons - Toss in some croutons for added crunch!
Start by preheating your oven to 425F (220C). First cook the quinoa according to the package instruction. This should take about 12 minutes. You can also cook the quinoa ahead of time so that it's already cool when you're making the salad.
While the quinoa is cooking, roast the asparagus. Break off the woody ends of each asparagus spear and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Roast the asparagus in the oven for 10 minutes, push it over to one side of the pan, and add frozen peas to the other.
Transfer the baking sheet back into the oven and roast for 5 more minutes. This finishes cooking the asparagus and warms up the peas without overcooking them. There's no need to defrost them before roasting.
When everything is done cooking, add the quinoa, asparagus, peas, arugula, herbs, quick pickled onion, and pesto to a large mixing bowl. Toss everything together and enjoy!
Serving and Storing
You can serve this salad on its own or as a side. If you want to make it a little heartier, you can add feta cheese, tofu, roasted chickpeas, or other veggies.
It's delicious served on the side of roasted chicken, fish, any meats, or with seafood.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Arugula is a tougher green so it will stay fresh longer than romaine would but it will still wilt down if it sits in the fridge for a couple of days. If you want the salad to stay extra fresh for 3 days, leave the arugula out and mix it in when you're ready to eat.
You can serve it whichever way you prefer. I usually serve it warm because I don't want to wait for the quinoa, asparagus, and peas to cool down. You can also cook the quinoa ahead of time and serve it cold.
You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
No. Most pestos are made with parmesan or pecorino cheese which are made with sheep rennet. If you need it to be vegetarian, use vegan pesto or read the packaging carefully because some parmesan and pecorino cheeses are vegetarian. You can also make your own pesto with vegetarian cheese.
More Asparagus Recipes
If you're looking for other recipes that use asparagus, definitely give the five below a try! The tart is especially my favorite. Asparagus is such a versatile spring vegetable. It's delicious roasted on its own, in salads, bowls, pasta, or even as fries!
Upgrade your lunch game with this easy-to-make Asparagus Quinoa Salad. It's flavorful, filling, and packed with nutrients!
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 lb (500g) asparagus (about 20 spears), dry ends snapped off
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cup frozen peas
- 2-3 cups arugula
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
- ½ cup quick pickled red onion (or sliced raw red onion)
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 lemon, juiced (or more to taste)
- ½ tsp freshly ground coarse black pepper (or to taste, add less if fine)
- Add-ins: feta, soft goat cheese, chicken, shrimp
- Preheat your oven to 425F (220C).
- Cook quinoa in 1 ½ cups of water uncovered for about 12 minutes or according to package instructions.
- Chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces and add to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with avocado oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the asparagus for 10 minutes, push it off to one side and add the frozen peas.
- Return both to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes.
- Into a large mixing bowl, add the cooked quinoa, roasted asparagus, peas, arugula, fresh parsley, and pickled red onion or raw red onion.
- Toss everything together to combine. Add pesto, lemon juice, and black pepper. Toss to coat everything well. Add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or pesto to taste.
- Serve on its own or with a choice of protein. Delicious with salmon!
Storing: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Keywords: asparagus, quinoa salad