Berry Quinoa Salad with Shrimp for an Easy, Healthy Lunch

Do you meal prep?

Overhead closely cropped image of a shallow white creamic bowl of cooked quinoa with pink cooked shrimp and fresh berries to the right, and scattered strawberries and blueberries to the left on an off-white surface, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

I’m all about doing one big cooking session on Sundays.

I can see my TV perfectly from the kitchen, so I just put a movie on and get to work chopping vegetables, cooking grains, baking proteins, and mixing sauces.

After a long day at work followed by a seemingly even longer commute home, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. And while I fully admit to still having nights where ordering sushi or pizza sounds better than whatever I had prepped for dinner, meal prep has not only saved me stress, but also time and money.

Vertical oblique image of a shallow white ceramic bowl of quinoa with berries and shrimp, with a spoon, on a white surface.

The only thing better than having dinner prepared in advance? Having pre-portioned lunches, ready to just grab and go in the morning.

Unlike dinner where you can save some steps for the night when you plan to eat it, lunches have to be fully prepped, portioned out, and portable. Plus, depending on your work situation, they can’t always require reheating in a microwave.

Vertical image of a shallow white bowl of quinoa salad with blueberries, strawberries, and shrimp, with a utensil stuck into the bowl and more in a large glass mixing bowl in the background, on a white surface topped partially with a blue cloth.

That’s where this recipe comes in! This berry quinoa salad is ideal for meal prep, as it:

Is quick to cook and assemble

  • Can easily be portioned out into four resealable containers
  • Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days
  • Requires no reheating
  • Doesn’t have a strong smell, so no weird looks from coworkers (trust me, this is an important one)

Oh, and did I mention it’s also healthy?

Overhead vertical image of a white bowl of quinoa with fresh berries, shrimp, honey, and seasonings, on an off-white wood surface with sprigs of thyme and a blue cloth.

While quinoa has gotten quite popular, not everyone has jumped on the ancient grains bandwagon yet. And if you’re one of those who is still holding off, let me try to convince you of why it’s worth picking up a bag during your next grocery store run.

Quinoa, technically a pseudocereal, is the seed of a plant that’s naturally gluten free. It’s also rich in B vitamins, fiber (key for keeping you nice and full), magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and disease-fighting antioxidants.

It’s also one of the few plant-based complete proteins, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent protein source for vegans and vegetarians.

Flavor-wise, quinoa has a very mild taste, with a slight nuttiness. However, be sure to rinse it under running water before using. Otherwise, it can have some bitterness.

Overhead horizontal image of a white shallow bowl of quinoa berry salad with shrimp, with scattered berries on a white surface, beside a large glass mixing bowl containing more of the dish at the top left corner of the frame.

In terms of cooking, quinoa couldn’t be simpler. Simply place in a pot of water or broth, boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. While you can use it as soon as it’s done cooking, for the fluffiest texture, I recommend letting it rest away from the heat for 5 minutes, the same as you would do with rice.

By using pre-cooked shrimp, cooking the quinoa is the biggest time commitment required for making this recipe. As once it’s cooked, all you have to do is throw everything together, and wait for it too cool before storing.

If you plan to enjoy this salad for lunch, you can pre-portion it before chilling in the fridge. That way, you won’t have to worry about this step in the morning when you’re rushing to get out the door.

While delicious all year round, to me this salad tastes like spring and summer. With the juicy berries, light shrimp, and brightness from a little lemon juice, it feels like the kind of salad you’d bring to a picnic or backyard potluck.

So break the mold of traditional green salads and cook up this whole grain option instead! You’ll be the envy of your lunchroom.

Print
Overhead horizontal image of a shallow white ceramic bowl of quinoa with spices, honey, shrimp, blueberries, and sliced strawberries, on an off-white table covered partway with a blue place mat.

Berry Quinoa Salad with Shrimp


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Looking for a healthy lunch option to make during your weekend meal prep? Whip up a batch of make-ahead berry quinoa salad with shrimp.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place rinsed quinoa in a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep covered, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. While quinoa cooks, place cooked shrimp in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss well to combine, then set aside.
  3. Pour cooked quinoa into a large mixing bowl. Add honey, berries, and seasoned shrimp. Toss well to combine.
  4. Allow to cool, then place in refrigerator to chill for 3 hours, or overnight. Serve cold, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves if desired.

  • Category: Grain Salads
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Lunch

Keywords: quinoa, quinoa salad, grain salad, berries, summer, meal prep

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep, Slice, and Measure Ingredients

Remove the tails from the cooked shrimp. Wash the berries well under cool water in a colander, and slice the strawberries. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Juice the lemon.

Oblique closely cropped horizontal image of ceramic and glass bowls of various sizes filled with cooked shrimp, oil, uncooked quinoa, fresh berries, and seasonings, on a white wood surface.

Measure all of the remaining ingredients.

Step 2 – Cook and Season

Place the quinoa and the water in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil.

Overhead shot of uncooked quinoa in water, in a nonstick saucepan on a white painted wood surface.

Once it’s boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed.

Overhead horizontal image of a nonstick saucepan of cooked quinoa at the center of the frame, with glass bowls of fresh blueberries, sliced strawberries, and cooked shrimp to the left, and a white ceramic bowl at the bottom, on a white surface covered by about a third at the bottom right with a bright blue cloth that has a ribbed surface.

Keep covered, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Overhead image of cooked quinoa being fluffed with a fork in a nonstick saucepan, with small glass bowls of sliced strawberries and cooked shrimp to the right, and a blue place mat to the left, on a white table.

While the quinoa is cooking, combine the shrimp, lemon juice, paprika, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Ovehead image of cooked shrimp with the shells removed in a large glass mixing bowl, with a smaller white ceramic bowl of spices and seasonings to the right, and a bottle of olive oil at the top of the frame, on a white surface.

Get out your pepper mill for this one, since freshly ground peppercorns provide the best flavor.

A large glass bowl of cooked shrimp with paprika and other seasonings sprinkled on top, with a ceramic dish to the left, on a white surface.

Set aside.

Step 3 – Mix Everything Together

Overhead image of cooked quinoa in a glass mixing bowl with a dollop of honey on top, beside two bowls of berries and shrimp, on a white surface topped with a bright blue cloth.

Spoon the cooked quinoa into a large mixing bowl.

Horizontal image of a hand pouring a small glass bowl of blueberries into a larger mixing bowl of cooked quinoa below, with the subject in focus and the background out of focus, against a backdrop of off-white wood and bright blue fabric.

Add the honey, and stir it in.

Horizontal image of a hand to the left, holding a small glass dish of sliced strawberries, with a large mixing bowl of cooked quinoa and blueberries in soft focus below, on a white surface partially covered with a bright blue cloth.

Add the berries, and the seasoned shrimp.

Overhead horizontal image of sliced and whole fresh berries on top of cooked quinoa in a glass mixing bowl, with a smaller bowl of cooked shrimp just barely visible at the top left corner of the frame, on a white surface partially covered at the top left with a bright blue cloth with a ribbed texture.

Fold them in gently.

Overhead horizontal image of a large mixing bowl of cooked shrimp seasoned with paprika and other spices, fresh berries, and cooked quinoa, on a white surface covered in the top left quadrant of the frame with a blue place mat.

Allow to cool to room temperature on the counter.

Step 4 – Chill and Serve

Cover or portion into individual containers, and place in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

Overhead closely cropped horizontal image of a large glass mixing bowl filled with a combination of cooked quinoa and shrimp, fresh red and blue berries, and seasonings, being stirred with a metal spoon, on a white surface.

Serve chilled, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves if desired.

Getting Fancy with Add-Ins

While this salad is satisfying as is, you can take it over the top with different mix-ins.

Love cool and creamy recipes? Add some diced avocado and crumbled goat cheese.

Want a little crunch? Sprinkle in Marcona almonds.

Want a little more zing? Trade out the lemon juice with fresh lime juice.

Overhead horizontal image of a shallow white ceramic bowl of quinoa with spices, honey, shrimp, blueberries, and sliced strawberries, on an off-white table covered partway with a blue place mat.

Here are some other grain salads for you to add to the mix, perfect for easy lunches:

The best part about grain salads is how versatile they can be!

Love shellfish? Try our Grilled Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches or Sweet and Sour Coconut Shrimp for two lightened up dinners.

What will you add to this lunch recipe to make it your own? Share your ideas in the comments below, and be sure to give this recipe a rating to let us know how much you enjoyed it.

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 22, 2013. Last updated: June 9, 2019 at 12:07 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

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