While I’m really glad that most quick serve restaurants have hopped on the “meal salad” bandwagon (Hi Panera!) they’re still too expensive to eat on a regular basis. Giant salads can be tough to make at home because it always feels like you need a million ingredients, but this Autumn Quinoa Salad with Lemon Turmeric Dressing is pretty simple and uses ingredients that are fairly shelf stable, so you can make a couple salads here, a couple salads there, and not worry about a bunch of fresh ingredients going limp.
It’s all about that dressing…
This salad is inspired by the Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing I grabbed from Trader Joes last week. After my first taste of the creamy bright yellow dressing I was determined to recreate it at home. While my Lemon Turmeric Dressing is not exactly like the Trader Joe’s version, it’s pretty darn close. I’ve been loving this earthy creamy dressing on tart Granny Smith apples, so I built the salad around that duo, adding some rainbow quinoa for bulk (and autumn-like color) plus a few sliced almonds and cranberries for crunch and sweetness.
About the almond butter…
I’ve found that almond butter varies a lot in flavor and texture from brand to brand. While I would have preferred a natural-style almond butter for this, all I had on hand was a more solid-style butter that contained sugar (Simply Nature brand from Aldi). Just keep in mind that depending on which brand you use, your dressing may need more or less water to achieve the desired consistency, and you may prefer more or less sugar.
Autumn Quinoa Salad with Lemon Turmeric Dressing
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa* ($0.85)
- 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
Lemon Turmeric Dressing
- 2 Tbsp almond butter ($0.44)
- 3 Tbsp hot water ($0.00)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.12)
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric ($0.02)
- 1 tsp sugar ($0.02)
- 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
- freshly cracked pepper (about 1/8 tsp) ($0.02)
- 4 cups baby greens ($1.66)
- 1 Granny Smith apple ($1.24)
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries ($0.14)
- 2 Tbsp sliced almonds ($0.33)
- Rinse the quinoa well in a fine wire mesh sieve. Add the quinoa, 1/8 tsp salt, and 3/4 cup water to a small sauce pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the quinoa should be tender. Spread the quinoa out over a tray or baking dish, then place it in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the lemon turmeric dressing. In a bowl or jar, combine the almond butter, hot water (start with 2 Tbsp), lemon juice, ground ginger, ground turmeric, sugar, salt, and pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir very well until the almond butter fully combines with the liquid and the mixture is smooth. Add more water, if needed, to make the dressing smooth and pourable (I used 3 Tbsp total). Place the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Thinly slice the Granny Smith apple.
- To build the salads, place 2 cups of baby greens in each large bowl. Add half of the apples slices to each, then spoon about 1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa over top. Sprinkle one tablespoon each of dried cranberries and sliced almonds on each salad. Finally, drizzle the lemon turmeric dressing on top, and serve.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Autumn Quinoa Salad – Step by Step Photos
Begin cooking the quinoa first, because it also needs to cool before you add it to the salad. Rinse 1/2 cup rainbow quinoa (or plain quinoa, if you prefer) very well in a fine wire mesh sieve. Place the quinoa in a pot and add 1/8 tsp salt and 3/4 cup water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer over low for 15 minutes.
After simmering for 15 minutes, the quinoa should be tender. Spread it out onto a tray or dish so it cools faster. Place the dish in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to cool.
Next, begin making the lemon turmeric dressing. The photo above is the Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing from Trader Joes that I was trying to recreate. If you want, you can simply just use the store bought version instead of making your own.
To make the homemade version, combine 2 Tbsp almond butter with 2 Tbsp hot water, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir very well until the almond butter creates a creamy mixture with the liquid (this may take a good deal of stirring). Then, add more hot water to get the dressing to the consistency you prefer. I used 3 Tbsp hot water, total. If your almond butter is more runny, you may need less. Place the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to be used. The vibrancy of the yellow color will increase as the dressing sits.
Thinly slice one Granny Smith apple. I find that slicing it thinly makes the perfect amount of tartness to contrast the creamy and earthy dressing.
Finally, it’s time to build the salads. Place about 2 cups baby greens in a large bowl, then top with 1/2 of the sliced apples, 1/2 cup of the cooked and cooled quinoa, 1 Tbsp each of dried cranberries and sliced almonds, and a healthy drizzle of the Lemon Turmeric Dressing!
The earthy, crisp flavors of this Autumn Quinoa Salad are perfect for the crisp days of fall when the air smells like wet leaves! #inlove