This is a variation of our grain salad base recipe. Quinoa is a versatile grain and is just as easy to make as rice, has great texture, and is full of fiber and protein. Does it get any better than that?? This sweet potato quinoa salad has lots of sweet flavors – sweet potatoes, dates, and apples. A homemade lemon vinaigrette balances the flavors out just right!
Three Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Quinoa Salad
Never cooked quinoa before? There’s a first time for everything! Use our fluffy quinoa base recipe for more guidance.
For extra flavor, toast the quinoa in the pot before adding the water.
Dice the sweet potatoes and apples into bite-sized pieces that will be easy to eat as part of a spoonful.
Be sure to toast the almonds; it really improves the flavor! If using whole almonds, toast in the oven, then chop. If using sliced or slivered raw almonds, toast in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Quinoa: any whole grain will work, but we recommend against oats. Choose intact whole grains that keep their shape like brown rice, farro, wild rice, rye berries, wheat berries, and barley. Refined grains like white rice can be subbed, but the salad won’t be quite as nutritious.
- Sweet Potato: diced pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, red kuri squash, or kabocha squash all make great substitutions.
- Red Onion: substitute shallot.
- Fresh Parsley: substitute regular curly parsley. However, note that Italian parsley is more flavorful; curly is better for garnishing. Other fresh herbs such as basil or dill can also be used, but they have stronger flavors, so adjust to taste. We don’t recommend using dried herbs in this recipe; fresh herbs add a brightness that can’t be matched.
- Feta Cheese: substitute goat cheese, blue cheese, parmesan, or asiago.
- Dates: substitute any other dried fruit. You can also use pre-chopped dates, but keep in mind that these are often coated in oat flour which may slightly alter the texture and flavor of your final dish. For larger dried fruits such as prunes, apricots, or figs, dice into small pieces.
- Almonds: any nut will work (except peanuts). Make sure they are sliced, slivered, or chopped and toasted.
- Vinaigrette: any store bought or homemade vinaigrette dressing can work, but keep in mind the flavor you’re trying to achieve. If using store bought vinaigrette, select a kind with ingredients that you recognize. Use our ingredient guide for direction.
Want a vegan grain salad? Leave out the feta cheese.
Want more plant-based protein in this grain salad? Add a cup of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans.
Want some grain salad recipe inspiration?
Use our grain salad base recipe as a guide, or check out our other grain salad variations!
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success!
- Cutting Board
- Chef’s Knife
- 3-quart Saucepan
- 12″ Skillet
- Dry Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Mixing Bowl
- Storage Container
Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!
Are Grain Salads Healthy?
This grain salad features quinoa, sweet potato, fresh and dried fruit, toasted almonds, and a lemon vinaigrette – all healthy ingredients!
Quinoa is technically a pseudo cereal grain, but because it is nutritionally comparable to whole grains, we group it alongside brown rice, farro, millet, etc. It is a unique plant food because it is a complete protein, which means it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids we need to get from food. Further, quinoa has a higher protein-to-carbohydrate ratio compared to other grains.
Whole grains such as quinoa are good sources of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is important for digestion, satiety, stable blood sugar, good cholesterol, and healthy gut bacteria. Phytonutrients work as antioxidants to help fight off diseases and keep us well.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of disease-fighting phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Different colored vegetables provide different phytonutrients, so consuming a variety of colors is ideal.
Fresh & Dried Fruit
Fresh and dried fruits contain carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are important for energy and disease prevention. Choose dried fruits without added sugars.
Nuts of all varieties contain plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These nutrients help you feel satisfied until your next meal. Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated fats which have been shown to promote heart health.
A healthy vinaigrette dressing made from extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice adds flavor and nutrition. Extra virgin olive oil provides heart healthy fats and lemon juice provides vitamins and acids that help fight diseases.
Learn more about health benefits of different foods and ingredients in our book, To Your Taste!
Served warm or cold, this sweet potato quinoa salad can be a light, plant-forward meal on its own. It also makes a great side to another dish, like our baked pesto salmon or simple turkey meatballs for a beautiful Whole Life Plate.
Want grain salads for lunch all week? Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days for best quality.
Want more plant-forward recipes?
Check out these easy, healthy recipe ideas!
Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (~1 medium lemon)
- ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (~1 cup)
- ¼ small red onion, diced (~¼ cup)
- 1 medium apple, diced (~1 cup)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 medjool dates, diced (~¼ cup)
- ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Prepare the dressing. Add the lemon juice to a large bowl. Slowly add ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, whisking continuously. Set aside.
- Using a fine-mesh strainer, rinse and drain the quinoa. Place in a pot and add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (~15 minutes). Look for a white ring that pops out when the quinoa is cooked. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to the bowl with dressing.
- While the quinoa is cooking, heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add remaining oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced sweet potato. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the diced onion and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and the onion is translucent.
- Add the cooked sweet potatoes, onions, and remaining ingredients to the bowl with the slightly cooled quinoa. Using a spatula, fold until well-combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!