Salads

January 5, 2023

Pomegranate Quinoa Arugula Salad with Steak

Made with pomegranate seeds, quinoa, pistachios, feta cheese, apples, steak, arugula, and a homemade vinaigrette, this wintery salad is fresh, healthy, and packed with protein. It's hearty enough to have on it's own, but great as a side salad too.

I used to hate on most salad recipes because they were just a bunch of leaves with a few tomatoes and a ton of dressing.

Like sometimes I was convinced most people just wanted an excuse to eat the dressing...

(Yes, everyone has their own personal preferences, but this one just doesn't make sense to me!)

So anytime I post a salad recipe on my blog, it needs to be filling, flavorful, and festive. And I mean festive like it's-a-party-in-your-mouth kind of festive.

I'm a firm believer that these festive salads are an easy way to pack lots of vitamins and minerals in one servings when you do it right.

So let me take you on a journey with today's pomegranate arugula quinoa salad with steak!

A bowl of arugula salad with steak, goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds


Why you'll love this recipe

Ready in 30 minutes: perfect for a last minute side dish or main dish meal prep

Fresh ingredients: lots of whole foods with a homemade dressing - no processed ingredients here!

Macro friendly: there's a good ratio of carbs, protein, and fat in each salad

High protein: between the protein-packed quinoa, the steak, the cheese, and the pistachios, each serving has over 35 grams of protein, which means you'll stay fuller longer

Full of flavor: there's hints of sweet, salty, tangy, and creamy in each bite

Ingredients for pomegranate quinoa arugula salad


Ingredients you'll need

  • Baby arugula: I love the depth of flavor that fresh peppery arugula gives to this salad, especially with the sweetness of the apple and pomegranate. It's also a great source of vitamin K, iron, and antioxidants.
  • Steak strips: you can just buy these pre-sliced in the meat section in most grocery stores, but if not, I recommend buying flank steak and slicing it yourself.
  • Uncooked quinoa: a great source of plant-based protein, complex carbs, B vitamins, and fiber. You can use any kind of quinoa like red quinoa, white quinoa, or tri-color quinoa.
  • Red apple: for a bit of sweet crunch and some fiber. Use your favorite flavor of red apple!
  • Goat cheese crumbles: perfectly creamy with a touch of salt. Feta or gorgonzola cheese would also work beautifully here.
  • Pistachios: the perfect pair to pomegranate. If you're not a fan, pecans or walnuts would also work well.
  • Pomegranate seeds: a delicious winter fruit packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and folate.
  • For the vinaigrette: apple cider vinegar, sugar free maple syrup, dijon mustard, avocado oil mayo, and fresh cracked black pepper. So simple yet so flavorful!

Substitutions and variations

  • Use any leafy greens you like, including spinach, kale, or mixed greens
  • Use grilled chicken in place of steak for a leaner protein
  • Swap the fluffy quinoa for brown rice
  • Swap the apple cider vinegar for 3 tablespoons lemon juice or orange juice with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Add some diced red onion for an extra tang
  • Use any fresh produce you have on hand like sliced red peppers, snap peas, or cherry tomatoes
  • Sprinkle sunflower seeds or crispy chickpeas on top for a crouton-like crunch

Dressing being poured on a bowl of salad


How to make this arugula salad

Step 1: cook the quinoa

Bring 1 cup of water in a small saucepan to a boil, then stir in the 1/2 cup of quinoa and cover with a lid.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 17-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Step 2: sear the steak

Head the olive oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add half of the steak strips in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Cook for one minute, then flip and cook an additional minute. Remove and repeat with the remaining steak.

Let the steak cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Step 3: make the dressing

I love to make my own salad dressings because I can make them with clean, simple ingredients and pack so much flavour in them, too.

My go-to method for homemade dressings is a mason jar and a frother because it takes seconds to emulsify, but you can make your dressing with a small food processor or small bowl too.

If you have a mason jar but no frother, just seal the lid and shake for 30 seconds until the dressing is emulsified.

Step 4: toss the salad

In a large salad bowl or large mixing bowl, combine all the salad ingredients, including the seared steak, and toss well.

If serving immediately, toss the salad in the dressing.

If you're planning on serving as a side salad or using for meal prep, only add dressing for individual servings.

A bowl of arugula salad with steak, goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds


Frequently asked questions

Can I eat this as a cold quinoa salad?

Sure! This salad tastes great cold.

How long does this salad stay fresh?

If stored in an airtight container, it will keep for up to 3 days. If you toss the entire salad in the dressing, it will only stay fresh for 2 days.

What can I use in place of the homemade dressing?

Any fruity vinaigrette would taste great, but you could also do a creamy dressing, too. My favorite is the Skinnygirl raspberry vinaigrette!

Can I use balsamic vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?

Not for this recipe. The flavor of balsamic vinegar would overpower the sweetness of the fruit.

Can I make this salad vegan?

You probably could, but the steak and the goat cheese are key flavors in this hearty salad, so I don't recommend it. If you do, leave a comment below so I know what you thought!

What goes well with this quinoa arugula salad recipe?

Since each serving has steak and over 35 grams of protein, this recipe is a great main dish. However, some yummy options to serve with this wintery arugula salad are veggie burgers, scalloped potatoes, or stuffed sweet potatoes.

A bowl of arugula salad with steak, goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds


More great salads

Roasted Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Feta

Christmas Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

The Best Southwestern Cobb Salad

Healthy Potato Salad (no mayo!)

Raspberry Almond Arugula Salad with Lemon Pepper Chicken


Next time you need a hearty winter salad, you need to make this pomegranate quinoa arugula salad! It's packed with nutrients, flavor, and protein, so it's quite literally the perfect salad for any occasion.

Be sure to leave a star rating and review below the recipe card so other readers know how you liked the recipe!

Pomegranate Quinoa Arugula Salad with Steak

Made with pomegranate seeds, quinoa, pistachios, feta cheese, apples, steak, arugula, and a homemade vinaigrette, this wintery salad is fresh, healthy, and packed with protein. It's hearty enough to have on it's own, but great as a side salad too.

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

10

min

cook:

20

min

total:

30

min

servings:

4

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 6 oz. baby arugula (or mixed greens)
  • 1 lb. steak strips
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 C uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 red apple, diced
  • 56g (2 oz) goat cheese crumbles
  • 56g (2 oz) pistachios, chopped
  • 150g (2/3 C) pomegranate seeds

For the dressing

  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar free maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp avocado oil mayo
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add 1 cup water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork before serving.
  2. Head the olive oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add half of the steak strips in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for one minute, then flip and cook an additional minute. Remove and repeat with the remaining steak. Let the steak cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  3. Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a mason jar or bowl and emulsify until smooth. Season with salt and more pepper as needed.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss all salad ingredients together with the dressing.* Divide into 4 portions** and enjoy!

Notes

*If not serving immediately or saving for multiple meals, add the dressing to each individual serving when ready to eat.

**If serving as a side salad, don't bother portioning. This recipe makes 8 side salads or 4 large salads.

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/4 of the salad, which is considered a large, meal-sized serving. If serving as a side salad, this would serve 6-8 people.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 prepared salad / Calories: 507 / Fat: 25.5g / Saturated fat: 7g / Carbohydrates: 34.8g / Fiber: 6.7g / Sugar: 9.8g / Protein: 35.5g