Sweet Heat Quinoa Salad With Balsamic Reduction

Sweet Heat Quinoa Salad With Balsamic Reduction

There isn't a whole lot to say about this dish other than, it was devoured. I'm not even kidding, I had to hurry to take the photos before inhaling it all. We all have different opinions of what is delicious, but if you like the flavor of rich balsamic vinegar, you will inhale this too!

I created this amazing, rich, sweet and slightly spicy reduction to drizzle over hearty vegetables. The chili powder gives a nice depth of heat, while the balsamic reduction is a nice sweet contrast. It is so filling, it is hardly a salad!

Warning though...you will be back for seconds and maybe even thirds. I sure was. It is packed full of nutrients, protein and healthy fats, so no need to feel guilty either! It makes a beautiful presentation as well for your guests.

Note: This is a recipe I wrote before starting The Vegan 8 blog (formally on my old blog, The Healthy Flavor), so it is more than 8 ingredients, but definitely one of my favorite recipes to date.

Yields Serves 4-6

Sweet Heat Quinoa Salad With Balsamic Reduction

Sweet Heat Quinoa Salad With Balsamic Reduction loaded with spinach, zucchini, sweet potatoes, avocado and so many delicious flavors! Plant-based and made with all whole foods and topped with a sweet and spicy balsamic reduction!

15 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

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    Quinoa and Veggies
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder & sea salt
  • 3 heaping cups sweet potatoes cut in bite size chunks
  • 1 medium zucchini diced (similar size as potatoes)
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • Few cups of spinach as a bed for the vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (for oil-free, just simply roast them without any oil on parchment paper)
  • Balsamic Reduction(Sauce reduces down quite a bit, so double the ingredients if serving multiple people)
  • 1/4 cup dark balsamic vinegar (I used Alessi Balsamic Vinegar, because it contains red wine vinegar and grape musts. Make sure to use a quality balsamic, it WILL make a difference)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano, garlic powder & dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • NOTE: For oil-free, just roast the vegetables without any oil!


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, prepare the quinoa. Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt to a medium pot, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, roast the vegetables. Dice the sweet potatoes and zucchini in bite size chunks and place them on two separate cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil (if using) on the sweet potatoes, massage with hands and season with salt and pepper. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper as well. Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes and then turn to broil just to brown and crisp the tops just for a couple of minutes. Watch closely so they don't burn. Bake the zucchini for 10 minutes and turn to broil the tops as well.
  3. Directions for the balsamic reduction:
  4. Add all of the ingredients into a small pot and whisk well. Turn to the lowest heat setting and let the sauce cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you want it. If you are doubling the recipe, it may take a bit longer to reduce and become thick. It is incredibly easy, you don't need to stand over the stove...just stir it every now and then to make sure it's not sticking to the sides or bottom of the pan. Once it reaches your desired thickness, and taste, turn off the heat. That's it! Easy as pie!
  5. Tip: This has an intense, rich flavor so if you prefer a less tart taste from the vinegar, just whisk in a bit of water at the end to dilute it a bit. Keep in mind, the longer you cook it, the thicker it becomes, producing a more intense flavor.
  6. Make a bed on a large platter with the spinach. Add the quinoa, cooked vegetables, sliced avocado and drizzle all over with the balsamic reduction. Or, if you are not serving a whole platter, just serve each individual plate with the vegetables and drizzle as much sauce as desired.




  1. Absolutely gorgeous and looks delectable too!!
    • Aww I just smiled big! Thank you for that wonderful compliment Lauren!! It's all gone...time to make another platter! Nom, nom, nom!
  2. I think I'll make this today - looks easy & delish!
    • Oh awesome Crista!! I hope you like it as much as we did! Thank you :)
  3. patrickshine
    Hi Honey, I just read your recipe and I can hardly wait to try it. It looks and sounds absolutely delicious!. Is there a whole foods market in this area? The only ones I know of are on Westheimer and over off San Felipe. I really have a difficult time finding some of the ingredients you use and have to substitute which I don't like to do. You are doing an amazing job. I can't wait for you to put Gilda out of business. Love, Mom
  4. This looks so amazing! A bunch of my favourite things all together! I will definitely be trying this
    • Thank you so much!! I'm so glad...please let me know if you do! It is my new favorite dish!!
  5. I love your combination of flavours in this salad and look forward to someday making it myself :D Thanks! Cheers CCU
  6. Oh I want some
  7. mmm so happy to have found another delicious looking recipe for quinoa, can't wait to try this one out!!
    • Thank you so much and for following my blog!! Yes, I'm a huge quinoa fan! :)
  8. i am a quinoa fan too.... thanks for the sharing the recipe :)
  9. So pretty with all of those colorful veggies on a bed of greens! I'm printing this one.. it is my favorite kind of meal, such a great change from the usual dinners I make! xx
    • Thank you so much for that Barbara!! We absolutely loved it and especially the tang from the balsamic! Hope you enjoy it! :)
  10. I have made your tasty quonoa salad for my hubby & he & I loved it so much: so colourful, so tasty & healthy too! xxx Fabuliscious food!
  11. You have got to try this salad! Not only is it gorgeous to look at, but it will give your tastebuds the most delightful treat they have ever experienced. This salad is so full of wonderful flavors from tart and a little spicy to mellow and sweet, The dressing really sets off all the other flavors and gives it that special "pop." My husband just inhaled it. His comment was "now that's a keeper and repeater."
    • I'm so glad y'all loved it so much Mom!! Thanks so much for leaving me such wonderful feedback!! I agree...the tart, sweet and spicy just has an amazing reaction on your taste buds!!
  12. Oh my goodness all your recipes look so good!! This has such an abundance of great ingredients and it looks so. Tasty.
    • Thank you so much for the compliment Erika! I appreciate that! It really has got to be my favorite meal!! :)
  13. Yum! This looks and sounds sooo good. These are some of my favorite flavors and ingredients, so I know I'll love it. : )
    • Thank you so much! It truly is one of my favorite alltime meals...the tart with the sweet..yummy!! Hope you enjoy it!
  14. What a great combination of flavors! Can't wait to make this:)
  15. I just commented on one of your other posts but... this salad looks delicious. My husband and I are really into eating quinoa at the moment and I'm always looking for new ways to dress it up. I'll be trying your dressing, thanks!!
  16. Absolutely DIVINE!! <3
  17. I saw sweet heat and got all excited!!! But it's bed time so why do I want spicy now?!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hahaha, because you always want spicy!
  18. I make a million recipes from a million different blogs and a lot of them are really good. But THIS one. THIS one blew me away. Maybe because it seems like a humble recipe. All the usual stuff we usually eat, quinoa, lettuce, sweet potatoes.... But THIS combination was dynamite and somehow so different and SO yummy. I was thinking how I would like to bring this one to a potluck with regular folks and let this amazing plant food BLOW them away. Also, the 13 month old ate the zucchini when it had the sauce on it. That was a first! P.S. Roasted mushrooms were also a mighty fine addition.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Amanda, you totally made my day with this amazing review! Thank you! This is one of my oldest recipes I've written when I started blogging, so I'm so happy you made it and loved it as much as I do. It's been a long time since I've made it. I'm even more happy to hear it was a hit with your baby, thank you so much for the wonderful feedback!
  19. Well this may be an "old one" but it sure is a good one! Due to acid reflux my G.I. said to limit certain foods, including beans, garlic and onions. It's more challenging than I realized finding vegan recipes that don't include those things, but I just knew you would have more than a few things tucked away in your arsenal of recipes, Brandi! I just left out the garlic powder and added some dried chives, and as you suggested, didn't put oil on the veggies. I doused them with some vegetable stock before sprinkling with salt and pepper. The only mistake I made was using half chili half CHIPOTLE chili powders. My Irish stomach had a hard time with how spicy the quinoa turned out, but again that was totally my fault from improvising. I will be making this recipe again and again, but will stick to regular chili powder. :0) Thanks for leaving your Healthy Flavor blog recipes on your Vegan 8 blog. Delicious recipes are delicious no matter how many ingredients are needed! :)
  20. Fantastic!! My husband loved it too and said he's be fine to have this for supper once a week.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      SO happy to hear that Karma! Thank you for the review!
  21. WOW - I made this last night and it was so delicious!! The flavors are just wonderful together. I am so happy to have another quinoa recipe for my rotation.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay! So glad to hear that Michelle, thank you for the awesome review!
  22. You have the vegetable sunder "Quinoa Ingredients" and first you say to add them all to the pot and THEN you say to roast the vegetables. But too late, because they're already in the pot. Consider dividing this out.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      I apologize Dawn for the confusion, I have edited it. I am surprised nobody else has ever noticed this before or had that issue, but thank you for pointing it out!

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