Are you tired of eating plain, boring salads? Try this colorful and flavorful summery vegan spinach salad! It features fluffy quinoa, spinach, juicy mandarin oranges, sweet blueberries, red onions, toasted pecans, and tangy oil-free mango dressing!
Do you try to eat a salad with every meal? Me too! I usually get a big clamshell of spinach from the grocery store and I end up making the same salad every night. It’s time to jazz up that boring vegan spinach salad with the addition of fluffy quinoa, toasted pecans, slices of mandarin oranges, sweet blueberries, and mango lime dressing!
This dish looks like summer in your bowl and it tastes like it too! The combination of the sweet fruit, nutty quinoa, spicy red onion, roasted nuts, and tangy dressing is incredibly tasty. This plant-based spinach salad is easy to make and it can be enjoyed as a light meal or as a colorful side dish to any main course. It’s also a great option to bring to a party or potluck to share with friends and family.
Step by Step Instructions
First, cook the quinoa, let it sit covered for 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a large mixing bowl and put it in the refrigerator to cool.
Next, you’re going to make the spinach salad dressing. Add the mango, lime juice, tahini, water, and salt to a blender cup and blend until smooth and creamy.
Remove the chilled quinoa from the fridge and mix in the fresh spinach, blueberries, mandarin orange slices, red onions, and roasted pecans. Pour the tahini mango lime dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
This spinach quinoa salad is a delicious side dish with any of the following recipes:
How Long Does it Last in the Refrigerator?
Store the vegan spinach salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Longer than that and the spinach will start to wilt due to the salad already being coated with the dressing.
Can I Make it in Advance?
For the best presentation, you can assemble this salad the day before and keep it in a container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. If you want to make the salad more than 1 day in advance or if you want to use this recipe to meal prep, wait to dress the salad until you’re ready to eat it so the spinach doesn’t get soggy.
Can I Freeze It?
This salad is definitely best enjoyed fresh. The quinoa by itself can be frozen, but the fresh ingredients don’t defrost well in the salad.
This recipe is very customizable based on what fruit or fresh greens you have available. Any of the following recipe variations would be delicious to try.
- Add Strawberries: Make a strawberry spinach salad by adding 1 cup of diced strawberries to the salad along with the other ingredients. Strawberries would be delicious with the mango lime dressing!
- Add Plant-Based Protein: Add (1) 14 oz can of white beans or chickpeas to the vegan spinach salad to add extra protein and make it more filling and substantial.
- Use a Different Dressing: Add 1 tbsp of minced jalapeno (seeds removed) + 1 tbsp maple syrup to the blender cup when you make the dressing. A spicy mango dressing would be delish with this sweet salad!
Substitutions & FAQ
- Quinoa Substitutions: You can use brown rice, farro, einkorn wheat berries, barley, or orzo.
- Spinach Substitutions: Thinly sliced kale, swiss chard, mixed greens, or arugula can be used instead.
- Pecan Substitutions: You can use walnuts, sliced almonds, or cashews in place of the pecans.
- Tahini Substitution: Sun butter, sunflower seeds, almond butter, raw cashews, or cashew butter can be substituted for the tahini.
- Should I Serve the Salad Warm or Cold? The salad is best served chilled, but it can also be eaten warm if you don’t want to wait for the quinoa to chill. If you mix warm quinoa with fresh spinach, the spinach will wilt a little bit.
- Can I Use Fresh Oranges? Sure! Instead of canned mandarin orange slices, you can use fresh satsumas, clementines, sumos, honeybells, or minneolas. All of these oranges are super sweet and easy to peel and remove the slices. If the slices are too big, cut them into small chunks.
- While the quinoa is chilling, prep the rest of the salad ingredients and make the creamy mango salad dressing so everything is ready at the same time.
- Buy roasted pecans to save yourself a step. If you can only find raw pecans and need to roast them yourself, arrange the pecans on a parchment-lined tray and bake them for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees or until they’re lightly browned. When you can smell the nuts roasting, that means they’re done.
- Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Want More Vegan Spinach Recipes?
Vegan Quinoa Spinach Salad with Mango Dressing
- Small Pot
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 1 cup mango (1 large mango)
- 1/4 cup lime juice (2 medium limes)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp tahini
- pinch of salt
- Put 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a small pot and bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it cook for about 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Take the cooked quinoa off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl and put it in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
- Add 1 cup mango, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup water, 1 tbsp tahini, and a pinch of salt to a small blender cup. Blend on high until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
Quinoa Spinach Salad
- In the large mixing bowl with the quinoa, add the mandarin oranges, 4-5 handfuls of spinach, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup diced red onion, 1/2 cup roasted pecans, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour all of the mango dressing over the salad. Use a large spoon to gently mix the salad.
- While the quinoa is chilling in the fridge, prep the rest of the salad ingredients and make the creamy mango salad dressing so everything is ready at the same time.
- Buy roasted pecans to save yourself a step. If you can only find raw pecans and need to roast them yourself, arrange the pecans on a parchment-lined tray and bake them for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees or until they're lightly browned. When you can smell the nuts roasting, that means they're done.
- Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
*This recipe was originally posted on 8/01/17, but I updated it with better recipe instructions on 8/02/20.