Beet Quinoa Salad with Cumin Grilled Chicken


This make-ahead quinoa salad is packed with lots of plant and animal protein, flavor, texture, and tastes even better the next day. Raw crunchy beets, salty cheese, toasty crunchy nuts, and lots of herbs get tossed with quinoa in a simple cumin-spiked dressing. It gets topped with a sweet and smoky cumin spiced grilled chicken, creamy avocado, and more nuts and cheese.

Ingredient highlight

Beets! Are a really great source of folic acid, fiber, and potassium. The deep purple color comes from betacyanin, which, in combination with the fiber content, has shown to be protective against colon cancer.

Beets also contain nitrates that our bodies convert to nitric oxide, which has a blood dilating effect. This is why runners and endurance athletes love beets – they may increase our endurance!

Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 medium beets (about 1 lb), grated (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped parsley, cilantro, and/or scallions
  • 1 cup grated or finely chopped sharp cheddar, plus more for topping*
  • ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts or almonds, plus more for topping
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, sliced or chopped, for topping (optional)

For the chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • *I like to finely chop the cheese so you get more prominent cheese bites. To do this, just cut the cheese into slabs, then matchsticks, then small cubes and then run your knife through it to chop it up some more.


  • In a medium pot, add the quinoa and 1 ½ cups water. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through. Transfer to a large bowl and spread out to cool off for a few minutes so it’s not piping hot.
  • To the bowl, add the beets, herbs, cheese, nuts, oil, vinegar, cumin, and salt. Toss to coat.
  • Start heating up your grill on high. You want it to heat up for at least 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can just pan-fry the chicken (cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side).
  • In a medium bowl, add the chicken, oil, sweetener, spices, and salt and use your hands to toss and rub around to coat. Place on the grill and cook, covered, for 4 minutes or until you have nice grill marks. Flip and repeat for 2-4 more minutes or until cooked through.
  • Transfer to a cutting board, let it rest for 5 minutes if you have the time, then slice or chop it up.
  • Add the salad to your bowl and top with sliced chicken, avocado (if using), and a generous sprinkling of cheese and nuts.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa
  • Grate 2 medium beets (about 3 cups)
  • Chop 2 cups parsley, cilantro, and/or scallions
  • Grate or finely chop 1 cup sharp cheddar, plus more for topping
  • Toast ½ cup walnuts or almonds, plus more for topping
  • Make the salad
  • Cook the chicken


  • To make vegetarian, substitute chicken with tofu. You could grill the tofu, pan-fry it, or bake it in the oven. You could also leave out the chicken and top with a couple of fried eggs.
  • If you’re not into beets, you could use any other raw crunchy grated (or very thinly sliced or finely chopped) veggie.
  • You can use breasts instead of thighs, but I would cut them in half lengthwise so they cook quickly and more evenly.
  • Use any hard aged cheese in place of cheddar. Feta could also work, but goat cheese would be too soft.
  • Use any spice combination for the chicken.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer:
    • Quinoa salad: up to 5 days in the fridge
    • Chicken: up to 4 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • This salad (like most) tastes best at room temp or just warm. I like to pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds to take the chill off or just let it sit out for an hour or so. Top with chicken, cheese, nuts, avo, and a squeeze of lemon or lime. If you have more herbs, scatter those on top.
  • The quinoa salad can be a base for any bowl. You can top it simply with fried eggs instead of chicken.
  • Use leftover chicken in quesadillas, tacos, bowls, salads, etc…

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