Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach and Chick Peas in a Maple Vinaigrette

quinoa salad recipe with pears, chick peas and baby spinach
Quinoa salad with pears, chick peas and baby spinach.

Vegan Gluten-Free Bliss

If you're looking for a fresh idea to liven up your ho-hum salad plate, Babycakes, have I got a recipe for you. Light, vegan, and packed with protein, this is no ordinary bunny food. It's got teeth- er, I mean, quinoa. Studded with nutty, buttery chick peas and crunchy toasted pecans and succulent jewels of ripe, juicy pears. And did I mention, in a bowl licking maple vinaigrette?

In fact, this is a salad even salad haters would eat. You know, those stalwart gotta have my meat and potatoes aficionados who eschew anything leafy. Who snicker at fiber. And mock carrot sticks. The sort of individual who gets misty eyed for melted butter and bacon martinis. To said individuals, salad could never be anything but rabbit chow. But this lovely mélange of flavors just might pique their interest. The sheer luxurious deliciousness of these autumnal flavors might coax them into flirting with bunny food goodness. Just this once. Then- who knows what could happen? They might settle in, fork poised, all dubious and dreaming of rib eye. They might take a bite. And then another. And another. And before you can say blueberry pancakes on a stick- they might actually smack their lips and grin and hold out their empty plate for more.

And you.

You could smile back, sly and slow, as you reach for the serving spoon to comply with their new found desire.

And feed their craving.

Add apples and pears to your salads for a seasonal burst of flavor.

Light and fresh- quinoa and pear salad with spinach and chick peas.

Karina's Quinoa Salad Recipe with Pears, Baby Spinach and Chick Peas in a Maple Vinaigrette

Recipe originally published October 2010 by Karina Allrich.

Quinoa adds vegan protein and heft to simple green salads- perfect for lunch or a light supper. Use pears or apples in this recipe- either one will work.


1 cup organic quinoa
Sea salt
2 good handfuls of organic baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
1 large ripe pear, washed, stemmed and cored, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chilled chick peas, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of pecans, pan toasted and salted to taste

For the Maple Vinaigrette Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve. Place the quinoa in a saucepan or a rice cooker. Add 2 cups fresh water, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and cook on a low simmer until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender- roughly 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and dump it into a large salad bowl.

Add the baby spinach, pear, chick peas, and chopped parsley to the quinoa and fluff.

Whisk together the vinaigrette, pour it over the quinoa salad and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.

Just before serving, add the toasted pecans and lightly combine.

Makes four main course servings, six side dish servings.

 photo Print-Recipe.png

Note: If you are making this salad ahead of time, I suggest you make the quinoa, fluff, and add the dressing while it is warm. When it cools to room temperature, add in the spinach, chick peas and parsley; toss, cover and chill. Before serving add the pears, and toasted pecans. Taste test and add more seasoning if needed.

Some folks like a dab of Dijon mustard in their vinaigrette- I don't, especially lately. But if you love a mustard-y flavor spike, add a teaspoon of Dijon to the salad dressing. Just don't make it too strong- it may overpower the pears.

I prefer salads lightly dressed. But if you prefer more dressing, or find that your quinoa and spinach needs a bit more dressing, double the vinaigrette recipe.

Here's my post How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker, with more quinoa recipes.

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

All images & content are copyright protected, all rights reserved. Please do not use our images or content without prior permission. Thank you. 

Quinoa salad with pears spinach chick peas and toasted pecans is a delicious and light gluten free vegan side dish
This fall quinoa salad is so inviting. 
Gorgeous. Keep it a secret, how healthy it is.

autumn pears are lovely in spinach salads
Sweet red pears are wonderful in Autumn salads.

More gluten-free quinoa recipes from fabulous food bloggers:

FatFree Vegan Kitchen offers up a Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash
Veggie Num Num makes Quinoa Salad with Roasted Pumpkin and Orange
Simply Sugar + Gluten Free cooks up Quinoa, Black Bean + Butternut Squash Salad
Cooking with Amy serves up Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus & Avocado
Perfect Pantry's Quinoa, Black Bean, Red Pepper Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette looks delicious.
Kalyn's Kitchen whips up Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Radishes + Cucumbers in a Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
Book of Yum creates a Gluten-Free Soy-Free Vegan Japanese Quinoa Salad Recipe
Gluten-Free Gobsmacked cooks up rice cooker Quinoa Salad
Skinny Taste's Gina makes a tasty Quinoa Risotto

xox Karina


  1. Mahalo for the quinoa salad idea. Researching quinoa and how to cook it is how I found your poetic ruminations on food. Rice cooker quinoa is now a staple from our kitchen.

    Is there a brand of golden balsamic you prefer? I've heard varying things about quality.


  2. I adore quinoa but Karina this may have to be the prettiest quinoa salad yet! I love the fall touch to it and the maple vinaigrette!

  3. Thanks to you, I always make quinoa in my rice cooker now. So much easier and it comes out perfect every time.

  4. Whoa I am in love with this seasonal salad, the way you describe it, who wouldn't fall in love? I'm putting maple vinagarette on my next salad creation! Thnx!

  5. Karina, this one sounds fabulous. I am addicted to quinoa. I add it to my salads, soups, etc all the time. With the hint of sweetness from the pears and maple syrup, I can only imagine how yummy this will be. It takes care of a salad and a side dish all at the same time! ;) Would be perfect to go with the sweet glaze I am roasting my cornish game hens with tonight!!! Hmm...

  6. This looks like such a good combination that I'm tempted to make it for lunch. And the photos are, as usual, stunning. Thanks so much for linking to my butternut quinoa!

  7. Gorgeous photos in this post, and the salad looks spectacular.

  8. I am simultaneously drooling, and thanking my lucky stars that I have all the ingredients on hand to make this!

  9. I am so amazingly happy about this blog! Seeing as I am celiac, seeing so much food in one place that I can eat is AWESOME!


  10. K, this sounds delicious, and the photos are art.

  11. I'm not sure if I'm more envious of the salad or the rustic robin's egg table. They'd both look great in my kitchen. :) I love the flavor profile you've put together and would be remiss if I didn't mention the carnival of textures. Sounds absolutely fabulous.

  12. Thank you for this recipe, it looks so good. Fresh and delicious!

  13. kelly17:56

    Can't wait to try this salad it looks devine! Thank you!

  14. Looks really good! I love vinaigrette dressing poured over spinach or any salad for that matter. Quinoa has always been one of my favorite gluten-free grains.

    Kelli C.

  15. Hi Karina,

    This salad looks absolutely scrumptious. The combination is just perfect. I love putting pears in my salad, and I have a lot of them right now from my tree. I love dresssings with a maple and a mustard flair. I love quinoa. I love greens. . .what am I waiting for?!




  16. the recipe looks gorgeous, but Karina, your pictures! Those are a work of art usually, but they stand out even moreso than usual (or maybe I'm just really hungry?)

  17. Wow - love the flavor combination and I am always looking for more quinoa ideas. I will have to try this, and perhaps with apples since we aren't huge fans of pears. Thanks Karina!

  18. OOh, pecans,maple syrup and pears! What's not to love here? Yumm...

  19. I love quinoa salads!! The maple vinaigrette sounds delicious!

  20. I love every ingredient in this salad. I'm printing this out now!

  21. Karina - You never cease to amaze me. What an amazing looking recipe. Looks tasty, healthy and easy. Just my style.

  22. Jill Duncan23:49

    made this tonight with some modifications based on what was in the fridge and pantry and it was delicious! i subbed local Gold Rush apple for the pear, walnuts for the pecans and agave for the maple syrup and it was still delightful.

  23. this is exactly what I need to do with the quinoa that is sitting in my pantry - what a gorgeous salad!

  24. Oh, wow. I can't wait to make this dish. I heart quinoa and I love adding different textures, like chickpeas and pecans. When I make warm quinoa, I like to add chopped tomatoes and parmesan.

  25. This was AWESOME! I made it the other day with tilapia, then had it with chicken the next day. My friends also made it once I tweeted it and had the same comments. One of my favorites!! The pictures are beautiful too.

  26. Yum! My 3 year old is big into salads, and I could see her loving this one. Thanks!

  27. Hi Karina,

    My husband and I just started reading your blog and we love it. We've made three recipes and have yet to be disappointed. We made this quinoa recipe two days ago and loved it. Your flavor combination are always on point. Keep up the good work.

  28. This is one of the tastiest salads I've ever eaten. Thank you! I'm glad I was referred to you.

  29. Thank you for such a tasty and beautiful recipe. I made it for a family dinner the day you posted and we now have it on a daily basis. We LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!

    Thanks again!!

  30. What a beautiful salad. So packed with color and flavor. I love the addition of pears.

    I’d love for you to submit one of your beautiful photos, and a link to your post, to my new vegetarian food photo gallery showcasing beautiful and flavorful vegetarian food.

  31. Karina,

    I just made this for supper tonight. It was delicious! My girlfriend liked it so well she took some home for lunch and a copy of the recipe!! Thanks for another winner!!

    Mama Russ

  32. mmmm this looks seriously good and right up my alley with fresh fruit and nuts, oh, and a maple vinaigrette, divine!

  33. I am always looking for more quinoa variations. I made this last night. My family did not like it as much as I did. One of my kiddos insisted it was too dessert-like and sweet. Oh well, more for me. I may go lighter on the dressing next time, and maybe add a dijon kick too. Thanks Karina for constantly challenging me to be more creative in my health-centered kitchen.

  34. I'm eating this right now as we speak...it's super yummy! Thanks for the great recipe! Makes gluten-free fun and delicious!

  35. Wow, I have become such a fan of your blog. This is the second one of your recipes that I wasn't too sure about, but gave it a shot- and yummo! Love this fresh, light salad...surprisingly filling, too. I'm learning that eating gluten and dairy-free means readjusting one's idea of what good food is, and your recipes have certainly helped to make it easy! Thanks so much.

  36. This salad is so yummy! I use the Trader Joes Organic Red Quinoa. It was beautiful.

  37. This sounds great for a thanksgiving quinoa dish! I've been looking for some new things to do with quinoa, and reading previous comments it seems you have given hints of how to make it in a rice cooker. I will have to search and find that helpful hint.

  38. Thanks, Everyone, for your lovely comments on this quinoa dish. I *heart* you all.

    I've added the link to the How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker post to the Notes section in the recipe. The link is also located in the side bar, and the in the blog's footer section below- the graphic with quinoa photos takes you to the post.

    Cheers + xox, Karina

  39. Anonymous11:50

    I too am in love with this salad - so healthy & delicious! The maple vinaigrette has such a pleasing combination of flavors - I will definitely use it on other creations. Thank you Karina :)

  40. Anonymous11:05

    Made this salad last night along with protine on the side, ended up giving my steak to my husband and I made a meal of this delicious salad...yummy!
    Neither myself nor my chef husband have heard of golden balsamic? We subbed a beautiful 18 year old balsamic and the dressing was to die for!
    Thanks so much.

  41. Thanks, Everyone, for your lovely comments on this quinoa salad. xox

    Here's a link to golden balsamic vinegar- I use the organic golden balsamic by Spectrum: http://amzn.to/hU7p24



  42. I had this salad for lunch today. It was amazing! Thank you, Gluten-free Goddess!

  43. I tried this last night for dinner, my husband raved over it, and delicious the day afterward after being in the fridge. I didn't have pecans so sprinkled a little feta goat cheese over it and it was delish. I'm going to take to my next pot luck b/c I think it's so unique. The dressing was sublime! Many thanks ~

  44. Anonymous09:11

    What rice cooker do you recommend? I'm looking for one that is not aluminum based. Thanks!

  45. The rice cooker we use is non-stick coated aluminum. It is a high quality cooker (I would avoid cheap rice cookers). We've had it for four years.

  46. Karina - this recipe is amazing! I have tried it as is, tweaked it to my personal preferences and any ingredients I mix in are fabulous. Thank you for sharing! I will continue to be inspired by your passion for gluten-free living. Many of your recipes are the foundation of my quinoa and gluten-free cooking :)

  47. Today in Canada it is Thanksgiving. I'm not really a foodie, too many allergies. But I invited a friend for lunch today, and was not sure what I would make. I ended up making a split pea soup in my slow cooker, delicious! I added corn bread that I made yesterday, and then I made this quinoa spinach salad. My friend is neither vegetarian or wheat-free, but she enjoyed her lunch. For dessert, we were going to have G-F banana bread with strawberries and vanilla yougourt, but we were both so full, there was no room!
    Thanks for this recipe, and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.

  48. Karina, you're amazing. I made this for lunch for the week - I can't get over how tasty and filling it is! I didn't add pecans, and made a pomegranate-maple dressing instead - man, was this good.

  49. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I had high expectations, but it turned out even yummier as expected. I used both pears & apples, a mixture of hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds instead of the pecans, and pineapple vinegar... It was perfection and a definite keeper! Thank you!

  50. This was delicious -- thank you! The toasted pecans were a perfect touch, too.

  51. I made this today and loved it! I stirred in the spinach right away so it would wilt. I didn't have balsamic vinegar, but raspberry worked nicely too! So hearty and portable! My kind of lunch! (and breakfast)...(and dinner)...!

  52. I am featuring you on my blog in a couple days and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the wealth of information you share. Here is an excerpt... "So I saw Karina featured on a friends blog and wandered over there to see what she was about. The Gluten-Free Goddess has some amazing recipes and not just with quinoa. Go visit her and see what she has to share. Her recipes are printable and she is on pintrest too! Maybe after a visit or 2, her place will be a regular stop in your routine."

  53. Anonymous20:01

    This was delicious! All of my in-laws are gluten-free, dairy-free and this will be perfect for Thanksgiving! Even if you don't have food restrictions, this tastes great! I can't wait to bring it to Thanksgiving!

  54. Anonymous12:46

    I have to say not only is this a beautiful salad; but will probably go down as my favorite salad of all time. I tried this and it was like Heaven..so fresh and light and flavorful! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  55. Lovely recipe; both in images and ingredients. It's the fall version of a quinoa/tomato/black bean/lemon/cilantro recipe I found elsewhere that has been by "go to" recipe for potlucks and parties. Thank you too for sharing about your journey in becoming Gluten Free. More people need to hear that there is hope for finding an answer!

  56. I wanted to let you know that I found this recipe absolutely delicious. I found my way over to this site via a beautiful photograph at Pinterest. What a winner! I'm don't suffer from gluten allergies but I will eat this again and again. Thank you! --AnneK

  57. Can I sub regular balsamic vinegar for the golden and honey for the maple syrup?


Welcome to Gluten-Free Goddess® Recipes. Comments are moderated and will appear on approval.

Find substitution help and guidelines here. Please note: substitutions alter the recipe (and may affect structure, texture, baking times, and flavor).

Find my gluten-free baking tips and advice here.

Find sugar-free baking tips here.

Wishing you a delicious and beautiful day!

Karina - Gluten-Free Goddess xox