Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is my ideal lunch! It's fresh & filling, topped with blanched broccoli, lemony pesto, crispy chickpeas, crunchy veggies & avocado.

Broccoli Pesto Kale Quinoa Salad

When you don’t know what to make for lunch or dinner, what do you usually end up making? My go-to is the almighty quinoa salad! I usually have a batch of quinoa on hand in my fridge or freezer (note: quinoa freezes exceptionally well), which makes salads like this easy to put together at the last minute. Quinoa salads are a versatile way to show off the seasons, and this one is my little tribute to spring.

For this recipe, I lightly blanched some beautiful broccolini and tossed my quinoa with kale, fresh mint, roasted chickpeas, avocado, and my favorite part – crisp, pink slices of watermelon radish. Don’t worry, if you can’t find watermelon radishes, thinly sliced red radishes will provide the same crisp bite. And if you can’t find broccolini, regular broccoli will work just fine.

I simply dress everything in lemon and olive oil and then finish the salad with big dollops of my favorite lemony pea pesto. This kale quinoa salad recipe has the perfect balance of creamy, crunchy, fresh, and hearty elements, and to me, the bright colors and lemony, herby flavors make it the quintessential spring dish.

Broccoli Pesto Kale Quinoa Salad Broccoli Pesto Kale Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad Meal Prep Tips

This dish makes a great light & healthy (yet still pretty filling) dinner. Hopefully, you have leftovers because this recipe is great for meal prep! If you do make this salad ahead, follow these simple steps for meal prep success:

  1. Don’t slice the avocado until you’re ready to serve. Like bananas and apples, avocados oxidize, or turn brown, as they sit out. As they brown, they can become bitter – not what you want in your lunch! Save them for the last minute to get perfectly green, creamy bites.
  2. Store the pesto separately. Storing the pesto in a separate container allows you to season it to taste and adjust its consistency before serving. If it’s too thick, stir in more olive oil, or if it needs a boost of brightness, add a little more lemon.
  3. Taste and adjust. When you make a grain salad ahead of time, always taste it before serving. Because the grains absorb the dressing, I find that they often need extra lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, or more salt and pepper on day 2 or 3.

Prep and store individual servings ahead of time (I like to use these glass containers), or toss everything together in a big bowl and bring this salad to a spring picnic or gathering!

Broccoli Pesto Kale Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad Variations

Feel free to play with the veggies and herbs in this recipe! Blanched asparagus or snap peas would both be great additions, or you could also sub in arugula or spinach in place of the kale. For extra crunch, top it with your favorite nuts or seeds (pepitas would be a great choice), and if you’re not vegan, a little feta would be a fun finishing touch. If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, try adding baked tofu or tempeh.

For more lunch ideas, check out this kale salad, this broccoli saladthese salads, these meal prep ideas, and these healthy lunch ideas!

Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad

rate this recipe:
4.91 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves 3 to 4
This quinoa salad is a great lunch or healthy dinner. Loaded with kale, roasted chickpeas, crunchy veggies, and a bright pea pesto, it's healthy, vegan & gluten-free.


  • 1 bunch broccolini, or broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 3 large kale leaves, chopped (about 3 loose-packed cups)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
  • 2 heaping cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 watermelon radish, or 3 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ½ cup mixed fresh herbs, I used mint and dill
  • cups Roasted Chickpeas
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemony pea pesto

  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach, or sub basil
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, or sub basil or mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more if desired


  • Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water and a large bowl of ice water. Drop the broccolini into the boiling water and blanch for about 1 minute, or until tender but still vibrant green. Transfer the broccolini to the ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
  • Make the Lemony pea pesto: In a food processor, place the hemp seeds, peas, garlic, and salt and pulse until combined. Add the spinach, dill, lemon juice, and mustard and pulse again. While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. For a thinner pesto, add more olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Place the kale into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, pinches of salt and pepper, and the lemon juice. Massage the leaves until they soften and wilt down. Portion into serving bowls with the quinoa, watermelon radish, avocado, herbs, and broccolini. Season to taste with additional olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the roasted chickpeas and serve with dollops of pea pesto.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Hannah

    I couldn’t find broccolini except in the frozen section. Would frozen broccolini be as good for this?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      To be honest, I don’t love frozen broccoli (it’s a little soggy), I would suggest regular fresh broccoli or even asparagus instead. Hope that helps!

      • Hannah

        That is helpful to know. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Siri

    Recommendations for a protein other than chickpeas?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Siri, baked tofu, or just sprinkle on some hemp seeds. Hope that helps!

  3. Pali

    Another great recipe that I’m going to try 🙂

  4. Erika

    5 stars
    Made for dinner tonight, absolutely loved! Have leftovers for lunch this week, can’t wait to enjoy again tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe (as always!)

  5. Tayla H

    How do you cook your quinoa? I know a lot of people cook it slightly differently so I’m intrigued as to how you do it.

  6. Okay, terrible of me but kale and quinoa (so basically, the essentials in this particular recipe) are two ingredients I have never worked with. I eat them all the time but I never prepare it myself. I guess I’ll have to give it a go!

    Lisa Favre

  7. 5 stars
    Those watermelon radishes are absolutely beautiful! Awesome meal btw. Thanks for the recipe! Pinned

  8. All-in-one meals like this are a saving grace for me. This one looks so bright and happy for spring, and I adore the radishes! They are so under appreciated, aren’t they?

  9. I really love this quinoa bowl, especially the mint in it. Now to hunt down some watermelon radishes. 😉 When I’m feeling uninspired for dinner I’ll usually roast off a mix of veggies, cross my fingers I still have some cooked beans in the freezer, and then go from there.

  10. Tayla

    5 stars
    Can’t find any watermelon radishes near me. What could I use instead?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Tayla, you can use regular radishes or skip them (or slice carrots really thin for a little crunch). They’re not necessary here if you can’t find them.

  11. melissa from

    I will be making this for tonight…for our lunch tomorrow! Thank you ! 🙂

  12. Kate |

    This bowl is full of super powers! With hemp seeds you get a good protein and omega-3 fatty acids. With kale and broccoli vitamin K and fiber. With avocado you eat good portion of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and folate. Definitely recipe worth to try!

  13. This sounds so good! I just added it to next week’s meal plan. 🙂

  14. I love this recipe with the broccolini and avocado! Yesterday we made a quinoa salad with farmer’s market beets, cilantro, mint, parsley, snap peas, and a lemon-ume vinaigrette. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      That sounds amazing – I really love ume vinegar especially 🙂

  15. Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands

    Lovely bowl, guys!

    • Katie

      For meal prep would you still mix the kale with the lemon,oil and seasoning? Or do that last minute? Just wondering if it would go soggy

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        You can still mix it together – kale is pretty hearty, it’ll hold up. Hope that helps!

  16. Amy from parsleyinmyteeth

    Such a gorgeous dish – love pop of color from the watermelon radish!

  17. Pamela

    Just want to let you know how much I truly truly enjoy your recipes. Trying to convert to a vegetarian (due to cancer) but the process has been slow…LOL! I have tried a number of your recipes and they have so far won me and my 10 year old over. By the way ordered your cookbook as well! I recommend this sight to anyone and everyone looking for healthier eating! Keep up the great work!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Pamela… wow, I’m glad you’ve been loving the recipes and that they’ve made eating vegetables more exciting for you. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.