Some may consider quinoa the sad, overused alternative to rice, but we beg to differ. For starters, it cooks in a flash (about 15 minutes). It also lasts for days in the fridge, it’s gluten free and it’s one of the only plant-based sources of complete protein out there. And perhaps most importantly, it tastes good with just about everything, from curried cauliflower to barbecue chicken. Not yet convinced? These 15 quinoa salad recipes—like citrus, shrimp and quinoa salad with feta and even quinoa Caesar salad—will change your mind. Ready thy bowls.

RELATED: 29 Vegetarian Salad Recipes That Are Way More Exciting Than Your Go-To Chicken Caesar

1. Citrus, Shrimp and Quinoa Salad with Feta

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, make ahead, less than 550 calories
If your daily 1 p.m. slump is caused by your lunch rut, we’ve found the cure. This beauty can be made up to two days ahead, plus you can swap another protein for the shrimp if you so desire—leftover grilled chicken, thinly sliced steak, you name it.

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2. Quick Guacamole Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, <10 ingredients, low sugar, less than 500 calories
If we could eat guacamole and call it a meal, we would, which is why we’re smitten with this fresh, Southwestern-inspired salad. If you already have leftover quinoa in the fridge, it will come together even quicker.

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3. Vegan Fiesta Taco Bowl

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, high protein, make ahead
It’s our philosophy that salads should be fun, so yeah, you could say we’re throwing on the tortilla strips with abandon. Psst: Prep all the toppings in advance so you can assemble and go.

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4. Pesto Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Vegetables and Labneh

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, vegetarian
On its own, quinoa can be a little, well, bland. One easy way to zhuzh up the grain (er, seed) is to add a flavorful sauce. Here, garlicky labneh does the trick nicely, but use Greek yogurt if that’s what you have.

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5. The Ultimate Quinoa-Avocado Bowl

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, low sugar, dairy free, gluten free
Crispy kale? Check. Spicy shrimp? Check. Avocado slices, watermelon radishes and quinoa? You betcha. We think this bowl has a bit of everything, but add cheese, a dressing or both if you want to take things OTT.

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6. Curried Cauliflower Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, gluten free
You had us at cauliflower, and again at yogurt-tahini dressing. Even though it’s vegetarian, this bowl is packed with protein and fiber to keep you satisfied.

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7. Fattoush-Style Salad with Crispy Quinoa

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, less than 500 calories
Fattoush is a Levantine salad made with toasted or fried flatbread, mixed greens and vegetables. This riff features a mustard vinaigrette, crispy quinoa and plenty of burrata cheese. Hungry yet?

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8. BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients
Say hello to your new favorite make-ahead meal. To streamline the assembly, pick up a rotisserie chicken on your next grocery run, then toss the meat with your favorite store-bough barbecue sauce.

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9. Easy Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, less than 500 calories, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian
The chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach in this 10-minute wonder keep the vibe light and refreshing, but you could swap in any chopped or cooked vegetables you have on hand. (Sweet potato and kale sounds mighty fine to us.)

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10. Southwestern Kale Power Salad with Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Avocado Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: less than 500 calories, vegetarian, gluten free
This quinoa salad is hearty, healthy and packable—a triple threat, if you will. It’s already vegetarian, but nix the feta if you want to make it vegan and dairy free.

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11. Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, beginner-friendly
Even though we know it’s not the most nutritionally dense, we simply can’t quit the flavors of a Caesar salad. This good-for-you twist is going in our regular rotation, thanks to crunchy roasted chickpeas and a cashew-based dressing.

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12. Cucumber Quinoa Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, gluten free, crowd-pleaser
Plenty of fresh basil and a lemony vinaigrette make this quinoa salad a no-brainer for your next backyard barbecue. If you’re feeding a crowd, it’s easy to double or triple, too.

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13. Corn, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad with Marinated Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, vegetarian, gluten free
It’s nutritious but not devoid of flavor, plus it has tons of texture and color to keep things interesting. To make it a meal prep lunch, hold the avocado until the day you want to eat it.

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14. Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Chili Garlic Sesame Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: gluten free, vegan, less than 500 calories
The contrast between the soft quinoa and crisp cabbage will have you coming back for seconds. You know, if the spicy-nutty dressing didn’t already have you hooked.

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15. Quinoa Veggie Bowls with Tahini Ranch

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: dairy free, beginner-friendly, vegetarian
We’ll never say no to ranch dressing, and the same goes for leftover-friendly salads that come together in the span of a Seinfeld rerun.

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RELATED: 21 High-Protein Salad Recipes That Are Crisp and Refreshing (but Still Satisfying)

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