This gluten-free and vegan strawberry corn quinoa salad is packed with fresh, seasonal flavors!
Our first dinner party in our new house on Sunday night was a success! Our friends had a great time, and more importantly, none of the kids spilled ketchup on the living room carpet. In fact, after everyone left and Alex and I were doing the dishes, I marvelled at how clean our house had remained. For a long time, Owen has had a terrible habit of “showing” all his toys to visitors, which really meant he upended every single toy bin whenever anyone came over.
This time though, the kids peacefully (for the most part) ate
popcorn dinner and watched Frozen in the basement while the adults enjoyed Brussels sprout tacos and this strawberry corn quinoa salad upstairs. Seeing as how I post mostly healthy recipes on my blog, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I love to serve healthy food at parties. I know it seems counter intuitive (parties are for splurging, right?) but I’ve found people are always thankful when a social gathering doesn’t cost them a million calories.
I mean, let me tell you, no one was complaining about this bright, bold quinoa salad loaded with fresh spring ingredients. My friend Meghan even emailed and asked for the recipe, so I was really glad I’d taken the time earlier in the day to snap a few quick photos.
A gluten-free, vegan, low-calorie, high protein SALAD that I’m daring to call…party food? Yes!
This salad makes a great side for entertaining because you can make it entirely in advance. The base is a big bowl of cooked and cooled quinoa (I used red quinoa, which has an earthy, nutty flavor that I love, but regular white quinoa would work fine, too). Then you add diced strawberries, sweet corn, a bunch of minced scallions, some fresh parsley, and a shower of toasted pumpkin seeds. The smoky, citrusy dressing is a mix of fresh orange juice, lime juice, garlic, maple syrup, adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilies), and olive oil, plus two teaspoons of chia seeds. Here is a secret: adding chia seeds to your vinaigrette is a great way to thicken it up and give it luxurious body without adding a lot of oil.
Another reason that I love this salad is that it has so much going on, it’s really all you need to accompany your main dish. I mean, of course in my dream world I would spend all day preparing a seven course meal, but IRL I’ve found that I have just enough time to make two dishes, one dessert, shove all the messes in the closet, and light a candle in the downstairs bathroom before my guests arrive.
Oh, and about that dessert. Yes, I serve healthy food at parties, but I also ALWAYS make a show stopping dessert. This time it was strawberry rhubarb crisp. For a similar recipe, try my whole wheat blueberry apple crisp or my strawberry rhubarb vanilla bean compote!
Strawberry Corn Quinoa Salad with Chipotle Chia Dressing
This gluten-free, vegan quinoa salad is packed with protein. It makes a great spring or summer party dish. The salad and dressing can be made and stored separately several hours in advance. Toss together just before serving.
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For the salad
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa (red or white)
- 4 ears corn
- 2 cups diced strawberries
- 6 scallions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilies)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons chia seeds
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it under cold water. Transfer to a pot with a lid and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa back to the sieve to drain any excess liquid. Return the drained quinoa to the pot, place a paper towel over the top, and cover it with the lid. Let the quinoa rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut the kernels from the cobs.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl. Add the corn kernels, diced strawberries, scallions, parsley and pumpkin seeds.
- To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Seal the jar and shake until emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed.
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