Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

July 28, 2020 | by Shannon | Jump to Recipe

Is anyone else a fan of Hot in Cleveland? 

The four funny ladies of Hot in Cleveland! L-R: Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, the indomitable Betty White, and Jane Leaves.

Because I LOVE Hot in Cleveland [aff. link].

Lines from this Golden Girls 2.0 show (The Golden Girls [aff. link] is another of my favorites, by the way) are never far from my mind.

Recipe Inspiration

As I developed this salad recipe, I knew I wanted it to be loaded with lots of delicious toppings, and I found myself laughing out loud at a running joke from one of my favorite Hot in Cleveland episodes.

In this particular episode, our glamorous, recently-moved-from-LA-to-Cleveland protagonists, Joy, Victoria, and Melanie, share their beauty secrets with neighbors seeking to imitate their ways.

When the subject of food comes up, the girls reveal to their interested neighbors that basically the only thing they eat all day is a single salad.

“Cobb salad?  Steak salad?  Mexican salad with the edible bowl???!!”

The girls teach a neighbor their (unrealistic) beauty secrets

One neighbor enthusiastically asks after expressing her interest in adopting a similar diet.

To which the sassy, English-accented Joy responds,

“You can’t just take an ENTIRE meal and SLAP the word ‘salad’ on it!”

For the rest of the episode, the running gag is “that’s what makes it a salad.” 

Feel like eating a bag or chips?  NO problem, put it over a bed of lettuce, because that’s what makes it a salad! 

Want some cookies?  Sure, crumble them over some spinach because then it’s a salad.

A Delicious AND Healthy Salad

Well, my Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette is proof that a salad can actually have lots of delicious toppings and still be healthy.  

Loaded with quinoa, chickpeas, roasted asparagus and tomatoes, homemade croutons, and my champagne vinaigrette, this salad feels like the ultimate indulgence, but it’s also incredibly filling and healthy. 

I’ve already made this addicting salad a few times this week, and I’m still craving it. 

It’s that good. 

Enjoy this salad as a main course, or make it a side and serve it with your favorite protein. 

Champagne Vinegar: Don’t Wait, Find Some!

Have you used champagne vinegar before?

It took me years to finally track it down in the grocery store, but it was worth the wait.  This slightly floral-tasting vinegar is mild and elegant, and truly makes this vinaigrette a showstopper.  Sometimes I find myself just dipping the homemade croutons in the vinaigrette…

(Is that a salad?)

Crisp and creamy, this champagne vinaigrette may just rival my long-standing favorite dressing, my creamy balsamic.

My favorite champagne vinegar from Napa Valley Naturals. Click to view or purchase on Amazon [aff. link].

Quality Matters

If you’re like me and just can’t seem to find champagne vinegar in the store, here’s my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].  Also, be sure to use a really good olive oil here.  As with all salad dressings, the flavor you end up with is the sum of the parts: use a good vinegar, a good olive oil, and you’ll end up with a superior vinaigrette.

PJ KABOS, my very favorite olive oil, made in Greece by the Panagiotopoulos Family, using Greek Koroneiki olives from their own trees. Click to view or purchase on Amazon [aff. link]

You can’t go wrong with my favorite olive oil, PJ KABOS, which you can find here [aff. link].  I use PJ KABOS olive oil for all my homemade dressings and sauces, and I also recommend using it for the homemade croutons in this recipe.  Trust me, you’ll be amazed at the beautiful flavor it brings.

The girls reevaluate their strict beauty routines...and eat a bag of The Walking Taco chips.

Have Your Cake. And Eat It, Too.

“So why did we pour that whole bag of marshmallows on top?” 

Victoria asks Melanie after the girls splurge, and down a whole bag of  “The Walking Taco” chips that they confiscated from their neighbors. 

“That’s what makes it a salad.”

Is of course Melanie’s reply.

This Quinoa Crouton Salad certainly isn’t a bag of Walking Taco Chips with marshmallows on top (does that even sound good??), but it’s proof that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health.

Make this salad anytime you want to treat yourself to a delicious meal loaded on top of some healthy greens.

After all, that’s what makes it a salad.

Quinoa Crouton Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

A salad can have lots of delicious toppings and still be healthy. This salad, with homemade croutons, quinoa, chickpeas, roasted veggies, and my champagne vinaigrette, is the perfect case in point!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 4
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the quinoa and chickpeas:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, (or water, but vegetable broth will bring more flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained

For the champagne vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Vegenaise, or mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp rosemary, dried
  • tsp pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

For the roasted veggies:

  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 15 asparagus spheres, rough ends removed and cut to 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • ½ tsp fleur de sel, or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

For the croutons:

  • 6-8 oz baguette, cut to 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes
  • ¼ tsp fleur de sel, or sea salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • ½ tsp rosemary, dried
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Everything else:

  • Arugula, 6-8 cups, or to preference
  • Goat cheese, for sprinkling (omit to keep vegan)

Instructions

Make the vinaigrette

  • Add all the ingredients to a small bowl, and whisk until the dressing gets creamy and emulsifies.
  • Vinaigrette is done!
  • Note: if the Vegenaise/mayonnaise separates from the oil as it sits, simply whisk the vinaigrette together again.

Make the quinoa

  • Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, and salt to a large soup pot.
  • Bring it to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low, and cook the quinoa uncovered for 25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  • The quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed, and it should still have a bite to it and not be mushy.

Add the chickpeas and vinaigrette

  • Now add the drained chickpeas to the pot of quinoa, and stir to combine.
  • Next add 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette to the chickpeas and quinoa, and stir until the vinaigrette is completely absorbed.
  • Taste, and add a little more vinaigrette if desired.
  • While the quinoa cooks, roast the veggies and bake the croutons.

Roast the veggies

  • Spread the veggies out on a standard-sized baking sheet.
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the veggies, then sprinkle on the fleur de sel (or sea salt).
  • Roast the veggies at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Veggies are done! Set aside.

Bake the croutons

  • While the veggies roast, prepare the croutons.
  • On another standard-sized baking sheet, add the croutons, olive oil, salt, rosemary, and pepper.
  • Toss it all together with your hands, then spread the croutons out evenly on the baking sheet so they’re not touching each other.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 5 min.
  • (Note: depending on the type of bread you use, you may want to bake the croutons longer, but start with five minutes, let them cool, and taste before doing so. The croutons will get crispier as they cool.)

Compile the salad

  • On a large serving platter (or you can make individual servings) lay out a bed of arugula. Layer the quinoa/chickpea mixture on top, followed by the roasted tomatoes and arugula.
  • Add the croutons, then drizzle a bit more champagne vinaigrette over everything. Sprinkle a little goat cheese over the top, if desired. (Omit to keep this salad vegan.)

Serve and enjoy!

  • Serve and enjoy this salad as a meal by itself, or as a side to your favorite protein.

Notes

This salad is vegetarian.
This salad is vegan if you don’t use goat cheese.
This salad is gluten free if you omit the croutons, or use gluten free bread.
This recipe would feed 2-3 people as a main course, and 4-5 as a side.  It can easily be doubled to feed more people.

I’m Shannon, thanks for visiting!  When I’m not on an adventure with my little girl, I’m developing plant-based recipes or watching a Classic Film!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Katerina

    5 stars
    I have to admit I don’t watch Hot in Cleveland (I don’t watch that much TV generally) but I love Betty White. She is amazing, isn’t she? And I am loving the sound of champagne vinegar – I haven’t seen it in the shops here but I recently bought some raspberry vinegar and have been wanting to use it. Do you think it would work well in this recipe?

    1. Shannon

      Isn’t Betty White amazing??? Absolutely LOVE her! Oh that sounds like a really delicious vinegar Katerina! I’ve never tried raspberry vinegar, but if the taste I imagine is accurate, it’d be pretty different from champagne vinegar in this recipe. I bet it would be a really tasty substitution, but a quite different flavor. If you try it let me know, I’m so curious!

  2. David @ Spiced

    5 stars
    Hah! I love that concept that you can take anything and turn it into a salad. It’s so true! (I haven’t seen that show, but I 100% agree with this episode.) Sometimes that’s how we come up with really creative salads…taking an entire meal and turning it into salad form. Speaking of creative salads, this one sounds delicious! I do enjoy quinoa, but I don’t cook it enough. You’ve inspired me to see if we have some in the pantry right now! This salad looks delicious…those toppings! And I’m not sure about champagne vinegar. I’ll have to ask Laura on that one!

    1. Shannon

      Thanks David! I’m in the same boat, quinoa is something I always have in the pantry, but isn’t one of the first things I usually reach for. This is definitely my new favorite way to enjoy it! Haha yes, I wish champagne vinegar was easier to find, it’s such an awesome ingredient. 😋

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