Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad

15 reviews / 4.9 average

I'm so thrilled that today's post is sponsored by my favorite fruit of all time — those golden, juicy, and delicious Opal apples. Major virtual high five to Opal apples for being amazing to eat and extra-amazing to eat in salads like this one.

You guys, I can't even.


*head massage emoji*

I need to address something with you, though. As you're going to see in just a second when you look at this picture, I, uhh, well, I just made my first Mason jar salad.

And it is 2014 almost 2015. And Mason jar salads have been floating around the internet since, um, like, forever ago. And yeah, that just happened for the first time in my kitchen right now today. Maybe I'm a tiny little bit slow on trends. Mayyybe.

Rainbow Quinoa Salad in a jar.

Mason jar or no Mason jar, Bjork and I are headed up north for the weekend, meaning that we're going to eat at two of my favorite Minnesota restaurants (!! I get superexcited about these things) and also meaning that I am chowing down on this Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad like a champ to get a little extra healthy glow in before our weekend away.

As I was prepping this for the week, I just got hit by the ridiculously, annoyingly cute Mason jar salad inspiration. Two reasons I decided to go for it:

1. FACT: I am a cooler person when I use a Mason jar for anything. It's just in the laws of nature according to Pinterest and Fancy Girl Life. These are literally the shortest days of the year, I'm feeling like a hibernating Minnesota winter homebody, and so to avoid the deep winter slump I needed to experience some perks of the high life. Enter Mason jar salads.

2. This salad has Opal apples in it, and Opal apples do not brown NO FOR REAL I JUST SAID THAT. Opals are non-GMO, golden, juicy, firm, crispy, delicious apples that do not brown when you cut them. Layer those apples right in the jar and you can stare at it all week long, still looking just and pretty and fresh as the day you assembled it. I pinkie promise you that these pictures were taken four days after I made the salad. 1-2-3-4 days! and still perky and fresh and tasting like nature's perfect candy.

Ugh, I mean, this is just way too good to be true. (But it's true.)

Rainbow Quinoa Salad close up.

Quinoa + salads = not usually my thing, but I made this one my thing by adding goat cheese and pistachios and a new grown-up thing I'm having a phase with — BEETS. But I feel like a traitor for finally coming around, so I don't really want to talk about that anymore.

I do want to talk about the fact that this is a quinoa salad that really reminds me of a combination of a chopped salad and a spa salad. Just to be clear, I don't really know what a spa salad is, but in my mind that dreams of spas, it's a beets/goat cheese/other veggies plate-o-glory. On second thought, that might just be because they serve a salad like that at one of my favorite restaurants and it's called the Spa Salad. Does that count?

So whatever kind of thing this is, it's delicious.

It's loaded with bright green spinach, crispy bites of apple, juicy bursts of pomegranate, crunchy pistachio pieces, creamy-smooth goat cheese with just a little bite from the pickled beets if you're brave enough for that sort of adult eating. It's a plate (or MASON JAR) full of healthful, nutritious ingredients that give you tons of winter glow and plant power. Because, umm, yeah, that's a real thing.

Carry on, Winter Warriors! with a Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad to power you through.

Quinoa Salad on a white plate with a fork.
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Rainbow Quinoa Salad in a bowl with fork.

Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 individual salads 1x


This Rainbow Quinoa Salad is packed with colorful, nutritious ingredients! Works perfect to make ahead in Mason jars for easy lunches.


  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped pickled or regular cooked beets
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup crushed or chopped pistachios
  • 2 cups chopped Opal apples
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  • a handful of green onions or fresh herbs if you want
  • dressing of choice (see notes)


  1. For Mason jar salads, layer in order: 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup beets, 1/4 cup pomegranate arils, 1 ounce goat cheese, 2 tablespoons pistachios, herbs, 1/2 cup apples, and 1/2 cup spinach. Store in the fridge for as long as 4-5 days. When ready to serve, toss with the dressing.
  2. If not making in Mason jars, toss everything together and serve immediately. I also recommend saving some pomegranate arils, crushed pistachios, and crumbled goat cheese to make it look pretty on top. 😀


I used a store-bought Champagne vinaigrette which was so, so delicious with all the salty-sweet-crunchiness in this salad. That being said, there are so many flavors and textures here that just a little olive oil and balsamic would be light and perfect.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Category: Lunch
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: winter salad, quinoa salad, rainbow quinoa salad

 Thanks to Opal apples, my favoritest of all the apples, for sponsoring this Winter Rainbow Quinoa Salad!

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of best healthy vegetarian recipes. Check it out!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I can totally see why this salad would be called a Spa Salad as a restaurant. It’s got all the right ingredients. So glad you posted this healthy recipe, my tongue actually hurts from home much sugar I’ve eaten. And I love Mason Jars – and yes, Mason Jars even come in the Disney Frozen theme in case anyone was wondering.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Well, this is my very first time to your site! And I love this recipe. Healthy and vibrant in color and nutrition. Still can’t figure out how Opal Apples don’t brown though. Interesting.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    A mason jar salad! I have been meaning to try this! But, confession alert, I haven’t tried it yet because I thought you were supposed to eat it out the mason jar, and I didn’t know how that was possible.
    Clearly, that is not the case.
    I am obsessed with ALL DA texture going on here! BRING IT. Pinned!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks amazing…..except for the quinoa. None of us like it. We’ve tried. Multiple times. We even lived 10 min from Bob’s Red Mill before moving to the farm and I had lots of help from them but NOPE. My youngest can spot it in the first bite.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Bummer! I have been having it for breakfast and if I don’t put enough cinnamon in my yogurt bowl, I just can’t do it. Bleh. But in a salad with lots of texture and flavors, I love it. 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks amazing! I must have missed the memo because I’ve never heard of Opal apples. I’m still on the Honeycrisp bandwagon. I’ll be looking for the Opal ones now! And, being from Northern Minnesota, I’m wondering what your favorite restaurants are up here? My new favorite is Tavern on the Hill in Duluth- try it if you’re coming this way! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      As a fellow Minnesotan, I’m curious about your favorite restaurants Up North as well 🙂

      Also, this salad looks beautiful. I will definitely be making it this week!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Our favorite restaurants are The New Scenic Cafe and The Duluth Grill. And as of this trip, we added Third Street Bakery to the list!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    It. Is. SO. Beautiful!! I haven’t made a mason jar salad yet either 🙂 I just bought a pomegranate (!) for the first time and after I figure out how to open it I am making this! Without the beets. Bleh. Once on Thanksgiving I took a huge bite of this deep red item thinking it was a cranberry… it was a beet.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I have totally just come to terms with the fact that I will pay a few dollars more to have those seeds ready-to-eat vs. fighting the pomegranate into a messy, red glop… Good luck with your pom! 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I feel you on the not-yet-tried the Mason Jar salad thing. I just don’t see how I am supposed to mix it up into salad goodness without getting salad everywhere. It’s so cute, but I DON’T GET IT.

    Also, super loving your last picture with the poppin’ colors on slightly textured white. Yep, into it.

    The salad looks delicious! I recently came around to beets as well. Roasted with goat cheese? ON IT!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve been eating salads for lunch every day during this splurge-y season…this one will add some new flavors to my tried and trues…hmmm, don’t think I’ve ever had pickled beets before…but I like pickles and I like beets, so I’m assuming they’ll be a “go” for me…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I couldn’t find Opal Apples where I live, so I used Honeycrisp. I cut them with a ceramic knife and on the fourth day they still weren’t brown! Delicious salad! I tried another dressing with pomegranate infused red wine vinegar, but I liked the champagne vinegar better.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lol, Lindsay, no problem if you are late to trends, because I will be guaranteed to be even later than you. 😛 Many times I don’t even find out that something was in until it’s out and I’m like, “Wait, I want to be cool and get in on this party!” Uh, except a couple years too late! 😉 Haha, I still have not made a Mason Jar salad, though thanks to the trendy foodies in my life, I did know it was a thing. High five to you…this sounds delicious!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, this sounds do amazing…can’t wait to make it! I may sub Brie for the goat cheese, but otherwise, perfection. Where in Moks did you find the Opal apples. The website says Cub and Kunds/Byerly’s. We shop at Cub, but haven’t seen them. I’ll check out Byerly’s, but just curious where you get them. Thanks!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo


    Oh my word, you guys . . . this looks ah-maze-zing and I need it in my lift like, yesterday!!!!

    Love you, love your work!


  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve never heard of Opal apples until I read this blog. I called The Fresh Market and they have them so I downloaded your recipe and about a dozen from the Opal Recipe Blog. Thank You.
    By-the-way, I made your pumpkin roll for a dinner with friends and it was one of the easiest desserts to make and so delicious. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year to come.