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Star Spangled Salad

By Nancy Eisman

Salads are a staple in any plant-based diet and for many good reasons. Not only are they easy to assemble, but there is no limit to what can go in them or what can go on them. For example, you can start here for inspiration:

What’s in season?
What are your favorite ingredients?
What colors, flavors, and shapes appeal to you?
What’s in your fridge and pantry?
What’s the occasion?

Start with greens, or not, add some veggies and/or fruits, some nuts or legumes, a grain or pasta, keeping color, shapes, textures, and flavor combos in mind, and before you know it, you’ll have a dish pleasing to the eye, filled with fiber, and packed with protein to dig right into.

While I’ve always relied on a very long list of ingredients for my salad creations, when I first saw strawberries mixed with greens I thought, “Oh no, that can’t taste good”, and boy was I wrong. Now I just say yes, why not, the more ingredients the merrier, and sometimes the wackier the better.

With few exceptions, you can’t miss with any combination of fresh, flavorful ingredients and a quick, easily whisked together dressing that lets the ingredients shine.

(My dressings are pretty zesty, always 1 part oil to 1 part acid, plus spices and/or herbs, and sometimes extra add-ins like mustard or shallots.)

This salad was inspired by the 4th of July and a challenge to create something flavorful, filling, and fun for your Fourth of July festivities or any beautiful summer day.

Happy Fourth Everyone!

Star Spangled Salad


1 cup Dried Red Quinoa (will make about 3 cups)
1 cup White Cauliflower, diced
1 cup Blueberries
1 cup Jicama, diced
1 cup Pickled Red Onion (recipe below)
1 cup Raw, Blanched Peanuts
1 cup Red Grapes


4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Grape Seed Oil
2 Tablespoons Honey Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper

Pickled Red Onions

1 cup Red Onion, diced
¾ cup Water
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt

Make the pickled red onion by combining the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl until sugar/salt has dissolved. Pour over the diced red onion and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small container, cover, and shake until emulsified.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, and then cool to room temperature. Pile the quinoa on a serving platter, then “artfully” arrange the remaining ingredients over the quinoa. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss, and serve.
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