Quinoa Salad with Croutons & Champagne Vinaigrette

quinoa salad
This quinoa salad, with homemade croutons, quinoa, veggies, and my champagne vinaigrette, proves that a salad can be a meal.

This salad is inspired by one of my favorite TV shows, Hot in Cleveland.

Hot in Cleveland
The four stars of Hot in Cleveland. L-R: Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White, and Jane Leeves.

Three of the show’s protagonists, Melanie, Joy, and Victoria, have just moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland.  The girls bring their LA habits to Cleveland, one of which is extreme dieting.

In an early episode, we see the restrictive eating that’s part of everyday life for Melanie, Joy, and Victoria. 

A few neighbors stop by and express their desire to learn the girls’ beauty secrets.  When the subject of diet comes up, the girls reveal to their interested neighbors that the only thing they eat all day is a single salad.

Hot in Cleveland
The girls teach a neighbor their (unrealistic) beauty secrets.

The neighbors are immediately intrigued.  One neighbor inquires as to the types of salads permitted on this diet:

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

Hot in Cleveland
At the end of the episode, the girls reevaluate their strict beauty routines...and eat a bag of The Walking Taco chips.

The sassy, English-accented Joy incredulously responds that these calorie-laden salads most certainly aren’t permitted:

“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.”  You can eat absolutely anything as long as it’s served over a bed of greens.

Because that’s what makes it a salad.

quinoa salad

Quinoa Salad: a Salad and a Meal

The Hot in Cleveland  ladies make a good point: many salads are loaded with junky calories.  These salads aren’t healthy.  You can’t eat a whole taco salad, complete with an edible bowl, and expect to feel healthy or lose weight.

But a salad doesn’t have to be rabbit food either.

My Quinoa Salad with Croutons and Champagne Vinaigrette is proof that a salad can be a healthy, delicious, and filling meal.

quinoa salad

Loaded with quinoa, chickpeas, roasted asparagus and tomatoes, homemade croutons, and my champagne vinaigrette, this salad feels like the ultimate indulgence.  But there’s no guilt involved.  Every element of this quinoa salad is good for you.

(Just use self-control on the croutons.)

quinoa salad

Make This Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad is served over arugula.  Because, after all, that’s what makes it a salad.

Enjoy it as a main course for a healthy, hearty salad any night of the week.

quinoa salad

A Few Things!

The homemade champagne vinaigrette in this salad is my favorite dressing.  But champagne vinegar can be difficult to find in the grocery store.  Here’s my favorite champagne vinegar on Amazon [aff. link].  You can also find it in my Amazon store here.

A good olive oil is necessary for homemade dressings and sauces.  I use PJ KABOS olive oil.  It’s made in Greece by the Panagiotopoulos Family, using Greek Koroneiki olives from their own trees.  You can find PJ KABOS olive oil on Amazon [aff. link], or in my Amazon store here.

quinoa salad
5 from 3 votes

Quinoa Salad with Croutons & Champagne Vinaigrette

This quinoa salad, with homemade croutons, quinoa, veggies, and my champagne vinaigrette, proves that a salad can be a meal.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 4
Print Recipe


For the quinoa:

  • 1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups vegetable broth, or water; vegetable broth will be more flavorful
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

For the champagne vinaigrette:

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

For the roasted veggies:

  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 20 asparagus spheres, rough ends removed and cut to 1 ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

For the croutons:

  • 3 cups cubed baguette or ciabatta bread, about ¾ inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of pepper
  • ½ tsp rosemary, dried

Everything else:

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
  • Arugula, 6-8 cups, or to preference
  • Goat cheese, for sprinkling (omit to keep vegan)


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/water, salt, and garlic powder 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 27-32 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally.
  • The quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed. The quinoa should still have a bite to it and not be mushy.
  • While the quinoa cooks, roast the veggies and bake the croutons.

Roast the veggies

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place the tomatoes, asparagus, salt, and olive oil on a standard-sized baking sheet.
  • With your hands, toss the olive oil and salt into the veggies until they are evenly coated. Now spread the veggies out evenly on the baking sheet. Make sure that the membrane side of each tomato is facing up.
  • 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, garlic powder, 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 baking longer. The croutons will get crispier as they cool.

Compile the salad

  • Once the quinoa finishes cooking, add the drained chickpeas and ¼ cup vinaigrette to the quinoa. Stir to combine. Taste, and add more dressing, if desired.
  • Next, add ½ of the roasted veggies to the quinoa. Gently fold them in.

Serve and enjoy!

  • For each individual serving of the salad, spread out a bed of arugula. Layer the quinoa mixture on top. Layer additional roasted veggies over the quinoa, if desired.
  • Sprinkle croutons over the veggies, and additional dressing, if desired. Top with goat cheese, if using (omit to keep vegan).
  • Serve this salad as a stand alone meal for lunch or dinner.


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.
© Copyright 2024 Vanguard of Hollywood

6 Responses

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 😋

  3. I’ve heard tell of Minnesotans who make a salad that includes sliced Snickers. I love salad, and like your, the ones I make at home I think are pretty good for me. A lot of time, when I go out to eat, I love to order salad – not because I think it will be a healthier option, but just because I love them. I’m always amazed at the lengths they go to in restaurants to make sure that any dinner salad is going to be heavy duty.

    1. That sliced Snickers salad sounds so unique! I’m curious to try it. I agree Jeff, restaurant salads are pretty amazing! “Heavy duty” is the perfect description. 😆

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