Colorful Gluten Free Healthy Lunch Salad Side Dish Spring Vegetarian

Color Wheel Quinoa Salad

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Color Wheel Quinoa Salad ~ You can have a lot of fun with this healthy salad ~ come up with your own veggies to fill in the spokes of the color wheel, there are so many combinations to try!

I thought up this salad up the other night when I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep.  Usually if I start trying to come up with new ideas for the blog, it’s a sure fire way to fall asleep fast.  Only this time it backfired…I spent the better part of the night tossing and turning trying to think of a blue food!

Quinoa is an ancient crop from South America, and it’s really more of a seed than a cereal or grain.  It has a nice firm, nutty texture, and you can substitute it for rice or pasta as a side dish or in cold salads.  I try to explore as many new foods as I can, not only because of possible health benefits, but because it keeps things from getting boring.

The dressing is simple but gives this salad a real kick.  It’s just sesame oil, garlic, lime and mint, but all four of those ingredients are powerful flavors.

Color Wheel Quinoa Salad
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Category: Colorful, Gluten Free, Healthy, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Spring, Vegetarian

Servings: serves 4

Color Wheel Quinoa Salad


  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (follow the package directions, it cooks quickly)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halves or quartered
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced, sliced or julienned
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • a handful of greens, chopped (swiss chard, spinach, kale, arugula etc)
  • 1/2 cup purple cauliflower, chopped
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • several sprigs of fresh mint (about 2 heaping Tbsp chopped)
  • 6 Tbsp sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime


  1. Combine all the veggies with the quinoa, breaking up any clumps of quinoa as you toss.. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
  2. In a small food processor, or with a sharp knife, finely mince the garlic and mint.
  3. Whisk or pulse in the oil and lime juice. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss the dressing with the quinoa, and refrigerate until chilled.


I love this purple cauliflower, it represents the violet part of the spectrum beautifully.  Why no blue foods?  I’ve heard one theory that the color blue is an appetite suppressant.  Another says that the blue color in nature is associated with poisonous plants and so humans have evolved to avoid it.  The pigment itself is apparently difficult to isolate so it doesn’t show up in hybrids.

I still think it’s kind of a shame that there are no true blue fruits or vegetables.  What do you think?


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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    There are blue potatoes ( They have been edged out of the market by the purple ones but I thought they were gorgeous. There is also blue jade corn (which I have grown) — a sweet corn that turns blue (unfortunately by the time it turns entirely blue it is somewhat starchy) ( Blueberries could be said to be blue (especially if you don’t wash off the powdery blue outer coat), but it is more of a midnight blue or a deep violet (violet being a purplish blue). Some violets/Johnny-jump-ups are closer to blue than purple/violet and could be used as well. Someone mentioned borage, which has a blue flower and tastes a bit like cucumber. There you go. . .

    There are no blue strawberries or raspberries (despite modern myths to the contrary).

    • Reply
      December 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      I love this, thanks EL! I’ve used purple potatoes, which always turn grey when I cook them, but I’m not sure I’ve seen the blue, I’ll keep an eye out for them.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Blue corn …blue berries?

  • Reply
    June 30, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I wonder if purple cabbage would be as tasty?

  • Reply
    August 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    purple cauliflower is SO lovely! i hate cauliflower with a passion, but color it purple and it seems i change my tune. :)

  • Reply
    August 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Such a gorgeous salad! I think all the beautiful colors is natures way of telling us that healthy eating is a very good thing. We grew Adirondack Blue potatoes in our garden this year. Although when you cut into them, they do look purple. :)

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      August 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Yeah, purple seems to be nature’s color of choice. I thought later that I could have added some beets after the cauliflower and it would have made it look more blue.

  • Reply
    Linda A. Thompson Ditch
    August 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    LOL, do you think blue food would be very appetizing? Your photos are beautiful and the salad sounds wonderful!

  • Reply
    Ellen B Cookery
    August 4, 2012 at 3:42 am

    YUM! I’m trying to incorporate a little more quinoa into my diet and this recipe sure does help!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2012 at 9:31 am

    How beautiful! You just look at that salad and want to take a bite. Are those beet greens that you used?

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      August 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      I used baby Swiss chard leftover from my baked goat cheese salads, found it at the faremer’s market and I thought it was really pretty.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Rainbow salad, hooray! I think blueberries are the only blue food I can think of…but I don’t know how well they’d to with cauliflower & quinoa!

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    August 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I love the addition of blue:) Of course we could add borage..if I had some..or Russian Sage? But nothing as bold as this.Lovely!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I think there are some blue carrots, but that’s about it. Your salad looks amazing!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    August 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Well Sue thanks a lot! I’m going to sit up tonight unable to sleep wondering why there is no blue food! So funny and interesting! I adore quinoa and believe it can be added to just about anything. Hope you have a terrific weekend and a good nights sleep!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    That is so pretty, I eat quinoa about 4 ties a week, I love it, I have it with chillies and butter for lunch.
    I think there’s no blue foods because we instinctively turn away from them as blueness is usually a sign of mould etc, blueberries, hmm, but they’re more blue black aren’t they?

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      August 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      I almost put blueberries in the salad, but then I didn’t think they would taste very good with the veggies…you sound like you have such an interesting diet, I’d love to live at your house!