This Quinoa Corn Salad recipe is like summer in a bowl! Quinoa, corn, grape tomatoes, red pepper, and arugula are toasted in a zesty dressing and topped with fresh basil, goat cheese, and almonds for a salad where mouthfuls delight. Serve this as a vegetarian main course or filling side dish.
Easy Quinoa Corn Salad (in Time for Spring and Summer!)
I'm all about salads this time of year. Nothing beats a fresh, homemade meal with goodies from your garden or local farmer's market! This week we've enjoyed this Chicken and Halloumi Salad and this Red Potato Salad, but today, I am adding this Corn and Quinoa Salad to the mix. It's light, yet filling, and so full of flavor — basically my idea of summer perfection!
- Cooked Quinoa: You'll need two cups total for this quinoa salad recipe. You can use whichever type you like, but I prefer a blend.
- Corn: Make sure to cook it! Fresh or canned will work here, but you can't beat fresh Silver Queen corn from the market or garden.
- Grape Tomatoes: I like using these because they're super sweet and small, but you can use whichever you prefer. Just cut in half or quarters to make them bite sized. Cherry tomatoes would also be divine with this salad!
- Red Bell Pepper: I prefer this type for the flavor, but you can use green, orange, yellow, or even purple. Mini sweet peppers would also work!
- Greens: The base of this Quinoa Corn Salad recipe is a bed of arugula and baby spinach, but feel free to use any greens you like.
- Fresh Basil: Any fresh herbs will work here in place of or with the basil. Just go with your preference! Mint would be a great addition.
- Goat Cheese: I like this type of cheese for its creamy, crumbly tang, but you can use any cheese you prefer. Shaved Parmesan, feta, or blue cheese would also work well here.
- Almonds: Bonus points for toasting them! Any nuts will work, but pecans, walnuts, and pistachios are my favorites, in addition to the chopped or sliced almonds.
- Shallot Dressing: Whisk together 3 finely diced shallots, 3 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, and Salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside to marinate before serving.
How To Make This Easy Summer Quinoa Salad
- Make the Dressing: Combine shallots, vinegar, and mustard in blender. With the motor running, add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Assemble Salad: Combine quinoa, corn, tomatoes, pepper, and arugula in a medium bowl. Then toss with the desired amount of dressing.
- Garnish and Serve: Top with basil, goat cheese, and almonds. Serve, and enjoy!
Tips for Making This Quinoa Salad with Corn and Tomatoes
- I recommend cooking your quinoa in broth and seasoning it well for the best flavor. You can cook quinoa on the stovetop, Instant Pot, or in a rice cooker.
- Don't forget to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking it! Quinoa is covered in a bitter substance called saponin. Unrinsed quinoa is bitter and can also cause digestive distress.
- You can cook the corn any way you like! To keep things simple, I usually boil it for 10 minutes. Let it cool and then cut it off the cob.
Pro Tip: Sprinkle some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper over your greens before dressing or adding toppings. This helps season them so they hold up well all on their own!
- Want more quinoa and less greens? Use 4 cups of cooked quinoa and omit the arugula.
- If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic or rice wine vinegar work well.
- Add ½ cup finely diced red onion or chopped scallions.
- For a kick of heat, add ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the dressing.
- Any cheese can be used in place of the goat cheese. (Feta, cotija, or even small curd cottage cheese — drained or patted dry to remove excess liquid — would be great here!)
- For additional protein, add chopped cooked chicken or tempeh.
- Want more greens? Kale, romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, and leafy green lettuce would work beautifully here!
- Add more veggies! Edamame, avocado, broccoli florets, sliced carrots, cauliflower florets, sliced zucchini or squash ... the options are endless! This quinoa salad recipe is a great way to clean out your fridge or garden.
If you are going to keep this gluten-free quinoa salad for more than a day, I would recommend either waiting to toss it until just before serving or leaving the arugula off until you are serving.
I do not recommend freezing this corn and quinoa salad. It'll turn to mush during the thawing process. Just store the components of this salad in separate containers and assemble when you're ready to eat!
Frequently Asked Questions
As it's written, no, but to make it so just omit the cheese and chicken broth or swap with your favorite plant-based alternatives!
Of course! I like to make a double or triple batch of the dressing to keep on hand for other salads or as a marinade. Just buy extra fresh veggies and cheese, and make extra quinoa.
Scaling the Recipe
You can easily make more or less of this dish - just click on the number servings in the recipe card and adjust to meet your needs.
Corn & Quinoa Salad
- 3 shallots finely diced
- 3 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 3 cups cooked corn
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
- 1 red pepper seeded and chopped
- 6 cups arugula or baby spinach
- ⅓ cup fresh basil sliced
- 3 oz goat cheese crumbled
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- Make the dressing by combining shallots, vinegar, and mustard in blender. With the motor running, add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine quinoa, corn, tomatoes, pepper, and arugula in a medium bowl.
- Toss with the desired amount of dressing.
- Top with basil, goat cheese, and almonds.