Out of all the salads I made for the Big Ass Salad series, this Rainbow Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette was the one salad that Betsy said she could eat for lunch in perpetuity.
It might just be the best lunch salad I’ve ever made!
Not only is it bright, colorful, and just plain fun to look at, but it also has good, filling ingredients and a nice mix of vegetables and fresh and dried fruit.
If you are in any sort of salad slump, this Rainbow Salad is the Big Ass Salad you need in your life!
How to cook perfect quinoa
Usually, when I hear that people don’t like quinoa, it turns out that they are overcooking it and left with some sort of quinoa mush situation.
Perfectly cooked quinoa is light, fluffy, and each grain is separated.
To get this texture, I rinse my quinoa well with water and then cook it in a few cups of boiling water (usually 3 cups of water per cup of quinoa).
This is TOO MUCH water for the quinoa, but it keeps the grains separate. After 12-15 minutes of simmering on low, the quinoa will start to unfurl with a little end sticking out and be tender if you try one.
At that point, drain off any extra water in the pot with a mesh strainer and steam the quinoa in the pot for a few minutes off the heat. Then fluff with a fork and let cool.
It will be perfect quinoa!
Ingredients for my Rainbow Salad
As you might imagine, I wanted one ingredient for each main color in the rainbow for this salad and wanted a mix of fruits and vegetables.
This is what I ended up using:
- Purple Cabbage – For the deep purple in the salad, I went with purple cabbage which I shredded.
- Blueberries – There aren’t too many blue things so blueberries were a natural fit here.
- Edemame – There are many options for the green layer here. I went with frozen edamame which are a nice size and also are protein-packed.
- Chickpeas – Yellow is sort of a tough color to nail down so I went with kind of a tannish chickpea color. It worked great!
- Dried mango – I wanted something sweet in the salad to balance out the slight bitterness of the cabbage and found some dried mango that I just sliced into sticks.
- Grape tomatoes – Finally in the rainbow is the red grape tomatoes. All done!
How to make the lemon vinaigrette
This is about as easy as homemade salad dressing gets. There is so much going on in this rainbow salad that you don’t want a heavy dressing covering the ingredients.
I squeezed a lemon, added some honey, and whisked in some mustard and olive oil and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.
This salad is hearty enough that it will keep for 3-4 days even after you dress it.
Colorful substitution ideas
If you don’t want these ingredients in your salad, no big deal! Here are some colorful substitutions!
- Purple/Blue – There aren’t a ton of options for this color range, but you could use purple kale.
- Green – So many options! Sweet peas would probably be my second favorite here.
- Yellow – Golden beets, roasted and diced, would be nice.
- Orange – Orange peppers would be a crunchy and bright addition.
- Red – Apples with the peel on or roasted beets would be nice.
- Want a single color salad? Try this Broccoli Crunch Salad!
Rainbow Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1 cup Quinoa, cooked and cooled
- 4 cups shredded Greens
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- ½ cup blueberry
- 1 cup chickpea
- ½ cup dried mango, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 lemon, juice only (about 3 tablespoons juice)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for later. Adjust flavors to your liking.
- To cook the quinoa, rinse quinoa well in a mesh strainer, add to 3 cups of boiling water. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa unfurls a bit and is tender. Then immediately drain off any extra water and return to pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let steam for a few minutes. Then fluff with a fork and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
- While quinoa cooks, prepare your other ingredients. Shredd lettuce and purple cabbage. Thaw edamame. Drain and rinse chickpeas and quarter cherry tomatoes.
- In a big bowl, layer shredded greens and quinoa and toss to combine. Top with toppings in a rainbow pattern (purple cabbage, blueberries, edamame, chickpeas, mango, tomatoes) and then drizzle dressing over the top.
- Leftover salad keeps well in the fridge for four days.
Did you make this recipe?
Here are a few other great salad recipes!
Lots of salads on the Macheesmo website these days but here are some from the archives!