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! Give it a try; we think you’ll be pleased!
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! Find the full instructions of how to cook quinoa here. For added nuttiness, toast the quinoa in the pot before adding the water.
Be sure to toast the almonds as indicated in the recipe. It really improves the flavor! If using whole almonds, toast first, then chop. If using already sliced almonds, toast in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Quinoa: any whole grain will work, but we recommend against using oats. Choose intact whole grains that keep their shape like brown rice, farro, wild rice, 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 would all make great substitutions.
- Red Onion: substitute diced shallot.
- Fresh Parsley: substitute regular curly parsley. However, note that Italian parsley is more flavorful; curly is better left to garnishing. Other fresh herbs such as basil or dill can also be used, but they have stronger flavors, so use according to your taste preferences. 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, 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, just 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 can recognize and pronounce. Use our ingredient guide for direction.
We love getting our oil and vinegar from Enzo’s Table. Click on the picture below to try out dozens of different oils, vinegars, and more!
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.
Need 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
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- 2.5-quart Saucepan
- Liquid Measuring Cup
- Dry Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Mixing Bowl
- Storage Container
Are Grain Salads Healthy?
This grain salad features quinoa, sweet potato, fresh and dried fruit, toasted almonds, and a lemon vinaigrette – all healthy ingredients!
Fun fact – while we consider quinoa a whole grain due to its nutritional profile and cooking method, it’s actually a pseudo cereal grain! Quinoa is part of the same family as Swiss chard and spinach. (1) Like other whole grains, quinoa contain fiber, phytochemicals, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is important for healthy digestion, satiety, blood sugar, cholesterol, and gut bacteria. Phytochemicals help fight off diseases and keep us well. Quinoa, with 8 grams of protein per cup, is popular for being a rare complete plant protein. (2, 3)
Sweet potatoes are a great source of disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Different colored vegetables provide different phytochemicals, 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. (4, 5)
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.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
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 (~1/4 cup)
- 1 medium apple, diced (~1 cup)
- ¼ cup chopped, fresh parsley
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 dried medjool dates, diced (~1/4 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 1 Tablespoon 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. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!