Steak and Quinoa Salad

This steak and quinoa salad recipe is spectacularly easy to toss together, especially if you have some cooked quinoa or even a smidgen of leftover steak in the fridge.

Steak and Quinoa Salad

This steak and quinoa salad recipe can be tossed together with spectacular ease if you happen to have either leftover cooked quinoa or that extra smidgen of grilled steak already in the fridge. That said, it’s still lovely and simple enough to make it from scratch without any hassle.–Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Keep Your Salad Low In Sugar

The author savvily suggests you opt for a whole-grain mustard that isn’t honey-sweetened for this steak and quinoa salad as it ensures you can better adjust the sweetness of the vinaigrette when you whisk it up.

Steak and Quinoa Salad

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4
Print RecipeBuy the Bon Appétit: The Food Lover's Cleanse cookbook

Want it? Click it.


  • For the whole-grain mustard vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) walnut or neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons (8 ml) honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • For the quinoa salad
  • 1 pound (454 g) flank or hanger steak (if using hanger steak, remove the center membrane)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup (118 g) uncooked quinoa
  • 6 cups arugula (or other sturdy greens, such as escarole, frisee, or spinach)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shaved lengthwise with a vegetable peeler into ribbons
  • 6 tablespoons (52 g) sunflower seeds, toasted if desired
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) whole-grain mustard vinaigrette


  • Make the whole-grain mustard vinaigrette
  • 1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl or shake them in a jar with a lid. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if desired. You should have about 1 1/4 cups. (This can be made ahead and kept for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. As you go through the week, shake again to recombine the ingredients. If it loses some zing during storage, add a bit more mustard or vinegar to brighten it up.)
  • Make the quinoa salad
  • 2. Season the steak with fine sea salt and pepper. Let steak sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
  • 3. Heat the oil in a 9- or 10-inch (22- or 25-cm) skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the steak to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and an instant-read thermometer registers 135°F (57°C) for medium-rare, 7 to 8 minutes total. Let steak rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak on a diagonal.
  • 4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the quinoa, reduce the heat, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain quinoa through a fine mesh sieve and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • 5. Arrange the steak, quinoa, arugula, carrots, and sunflower seeds among individual plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette. (You may have some leftover vinaigrette. Simply cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.) Add some freshly cracked black pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Testers Reviews

Note to self: The next time you make steak, perhaps every time you make steak, make extra. I had some leftovers from a T-bone that my husband had grilled. I also happened to have some leftover quinoa. I sliced the steak and arrange it on a plate with the quinoa. I then shaved multi-colored carrots (orange, white, and purple) alongside that until it looked like enough. I toasted sunflower seeds and sprinkled them over the top, again enough until it was “just right.” I like having a jar of vinaigrette in the fridge at all times. I made a half recipe, which yielded 3/4 cup of dressing, and we did not need that much. What a wonderful lunch this turned out to be! No measuring. No cooking (since I was able to use leftovers). Now I have the vinaigrette in the fridge, waiting till the next time I have some leftover steak (if it makes it until then).

This colorful main dish salad lends itself to being made in stages and then combined closer to mealtime. I cooked the quinoa early in the day and refrigerated it. While the quinoa was cooking, I made the mustard vinaigrette and also stashed that in the fridge. Ditto for preparing the carrot ribbons, which were stored in a container of water to keep them from drying out. About an hour before we ate, I took my steak out of the refrigerator to season it and then washed and dried the arugula while the steak came to room temperature. After cooking the steak, all that was left was pulling everything together into a salad. Since there were only two of us eating, I plated 2 portions and dressed them individually. For the dressing, I used walnut oil, white wine vinegar, and honey. The arugula was a young variety (not quite baby but not fully mature and bitter) from the farmers’ market. The carrots were the most laborious part of the recipe. I peeled them into ribbons as close to the core as I could and still get long intact pieces.

This quinoa salad is a great weeknight recipe that would be stunning for a casual dinner party. We made this for just the two of us and it's a nice meal to cook as a team. I would absolutely serve this to guests with the salad arranged on a long platter to be taken to the table. We made a half recipe of everything except the quinoa (extra quinoa can always gets incorporated into other meals here). In the time it took to season the flank steak and let it come to room temperature, I could prepare the quinoa, salad, and dressing. I always pre-rinse my quinoa and then cook it in just the amount of water it needs (1:2 ratio of grain to water), until the germ separates from the seed into little circles. This recipe has you use much more water and then drain, which was a little awkward with a small sieve but the end result was about the same. For extra drama, I used dark red rainbow carrots, peeled into long ribbons. I had fresh pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in place of sunflower seeds and pan-toasted them for a few minutes in the same cast-iron skillet we later used for the steak. Just 3 minutes on the first side and 2 on the second yielded a perfect rare steak. 

Initially I arranged the salad ingredients to match the picture, but the carrots ribbons seemed to want to overflow the plate, so I tossed the salad (but not the dressing) and replated, then drizzled with the vinaigrette. After adding the sliced steak on top, I drizzled a little more dressing. The only thing I would change is to make the dressing a bit brighter. I used white wine vinegar and the ratio was just a bit too mild—it needed more acid. I adjusted the dressing the next day with some red vinegar and it popped nicely. My usually ratio is more 5:2 (oil to acid) and this was more of a 4:1. Just a matter of taste. The other thing I would consider would be adding a little chopped preserved lemon if I had it on hand or some pomegranate seeds. This was a very generous and satisfying dinner for two for 2 or 4 or 6...a very scalable recipe! Not only were we willing to eat this again, we probably should eat like this more often.

This quinoa salad recipe is a good combination of flavors. It's also a lovely steak dish that's satisfying and filling yet light. The title calls it a salad but it's really much more than that but will not weigh you down. I like to salt my steak before cooking it for about an hour or so. I think it makes for a better seasoned steak and helps it brown much better. The recipe instructs us to salt it for 30 minutes before cooking and that was perfect for a thin cut like flank. I like that the recipe specifies a temperature to cook the steak to as opposed to the silly "thumb test" or something like that. My steak took closer to 10 minutes total to hit 135°F (57°C). Half the vinaigrette recipe is just right for the amount of "salad." To serve, I used the picture as a guideline and made a nice composed salad. To ensure a good distribution of sauce to ingredients, I first tossed the greens with a bit of vinaigrette. I did the same for the carrots. Then I drizzled some of the remaining vinaigrette on the steak and quinoa.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish