Hearty Veggie & Quinoa Starbucks Salad Bowl

I just got back from the last leg of my 3 week trip. I spent the last few days in San Francisco running a 200 mile relay race, pretending to learn about wine, and eating lots of vegan food. I loved SF way more than I thought I would, and now I kind of want to live there one day.

I want to live everywhere.  And it changes every five minutes. I visited New York, North Carolina, Denver, and San Francisco, and despite how different they were, I loved all of them the same. I feel like I could be happy absolutely anywhere but also maybe nowhere at all.
 Hearty Veggie & Quinoa Salad Bowl
Anyway, out of all the great vegan restaurants and independent coffee shops I visited along the way, the first meal I recreated when I got home was…….. a boxed salad from Starbucks. I felt kind of ridiculous when I realized that’s what I did, and that I would then have to explain it on this blog. I feel so uncultured.
I could have chosen the fried pickles with vegan ranch dressing from Sputnik, the tempeh reuben from The Plant, or the dragon bowl from The Laughing Seed – and maybe I will for a future post – but the fact that I chose a boxed Starbucks salad at least says something about how easy it is to offer vegan options, even if you’re a corporate giant.
I want to live everywhere. And have every career. And it changes every five minutes. I was kind of hoping to clarify some things during this trip, but that was not the case. I visited New York, North Carolina, Denver, and San Francisco, and despite how different they were, I loved all of them the same. I feel like I could be happy absolutely anywhere but also maybe nowhere at all.
And no, they’re not paying me to write about this. I’m not that popular of a blogger. I just really loved how healthy, simple, and convenient this salad was. The few times  I was in a bind and couldn’t find vegan food, or just wanted something really healthy, this salad was perfect.
My slightly modified version contained kale, broccoli, roasted squash, beets, garden peas, red cabbage, quinoa, and lemon tahini dressing. It’s become one of those meals I want to eat every. single. day. So it’s a good thing I started making my own. If I could start making my own Americanos, extra hot, with two inches of steamed soy milk, I’d be all set.
Hearty Veggie & Quinoa Salad Bowl

Hearty Veggie and Quinoa Salad Bowl

Recipe  inspired by Starbucks. Makes about 4 salads 



  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup pickled sliced beets
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash (1″ cubes)
  • 1 cup garden peas
  • 1 bunch of chopped kale
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • olive oil

These are all suggested amounts – use however much of each vegetable you like!  Same goes for the lemon/tahini/soy ratio in the dressing below. 

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (juice form about 3 lemons)
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • parsley (for garnish)
  1. Quinoa – Prepare quinoa according to packaged directions (Rinse*. Boil 2 cups of water, pour 1 cup dry quinoa in, and let simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes, and fluff with a fork before serving.)
  2. Roasted Squash – Lightly coat cubed butternut squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven on 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. Broccoli – Steam for 1 – 2 min and immediately rinse under cold water. This will give you crispy, slightly cooked broccoli that’s perfect for salad!
  4. Shredded cabbage, chopped kale, beets & peas – These are all good to go!
  5. Dressing – Whisk tahini, lemon juice, and soy sauce together.
  6. Assembly – Place a scoop of quinoa in the center of each plate, surround with various vegetables, and serve with a side of lemon-tahini dressing.

* I swear I’ve gotten an unusual amount of people calling/texting me lately with this same random question about whether or not you really need to rinse quinoa and how to do it. You really should wash quinoa because it has a resin called saponin on it that can alter the taste of the quinoa and even upset your stomach if your sensitive to it. I’m guilty of skipping this step a lot. But when you do wash it, use a fine mesh strainer and not the regular one for rinsing spaghetti, or else your quinoa will fall out the bottom. I thought this was common knowledge, but recent conversations on this topic tell me it’s not.


Hearty Veggie & Quinoa Salad Bowl
And lastly, on the topic of life choices…I watched this TED talk a few months ago about the paradox of choice. Having lots of options seems like a good thing, but it also creates higher expectations, and you’ll eventually  have to pick one opportunity and leave the rest behind. The more choices you had, the harder it is to meet those elevated expectations, the more you’ll ultimately have to give up, and the less satisfied you’ll be. Or so says the TED talk. Go watch it and tell me what you think. And then tell me what to eat/wear/do with my life so I can avoid this paradox altogether.
And here’s some San Francisco highlights!



  1. says

    This salad bowl looks delicious, and so easy to recreate – no wonder you did it first! Also, I completely hear you about wanting to live in a million places. Every time I visit a cool new city (most recently Portland) I leave thinking that I’d be really sad if I couldn’t at least live there for a few years. I’m running out of time! :)

    • kori says

      I REALLY want to visit Portland!!! That’s been on my list for a while! Maybe they’ll host a food blogging conference there sometime and we can meet up!

  2. says

    “I feel like I could be happy absolutely anywhere but also maybe nowhere at all.”

    I totally, totally get what you mean by this. I tend to leave a little piece of my heart in almost every place I visit, so it feels like I could stay in any of them forever, but there are just too many to narrow it down.

    Also, thanks for the quinoa heads up. That info was new to me.
    http://ts3.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4943499899569018&pid=1.7 (<– That's not spam, I swear. Just a related funny image.)

    • kori says

      It’s a lucky problem to have, but still a problem!! :)

      You’re welcome on the quinoa! I think that’s got to be one of the most misunderstood foods right now. I didn’t realize it was actually a seed for the longest time!

  3. says

    This all looks delicious! I love tahini-based dressings. :)

    Don’t feel ‘uncultured’ at all. I’m such a homebody! The idea of traveling stresses me out, so I just stay in my little hole. :) Luckily, I married someone of a similar mindset or I’d be in trouble!

  4. shanna harding says

    Oh I am doing the happy dance right now! I just made the dressing as you said and it tastes AMAZING! I had just discovered Starbucks Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad a couple weeks ago, and although it is expensive I couldn’t stop myself from buying it. So I am so THANKFUL you posed this. Now to add the veggies..
    Thank thank you!


  5. says

    I too love that salad and considering there is a Starbucks on every corner here in NYC, it’s great when you’re in a pinch. Thank you so much for recreating the recipe! And I love the mod of using quinoa instead of brown rice.

  6. Shawna says

    Thank you so much for recreating this! I discovered this salad in Miami and unfortunately my local Satrbucks doesn’t carry it. I think I’d order it daily if they did. I’m excited to try this one out. I’ve been giggling recipes for this salad for sometime but never saw one. Thank you!

    • kori says

      Hey Shawna!

      I’m glad someone out there likes these Starbucks bowls as much as I do! They are SO good – I hope you like this one just as much :)

  7. says

    Hi I just had that salad today at starbuck and loved it!
    but the original recipie @their web page has many more ingredients, does your recipie taste as good as the original?
    Starbucks ingredients:
    lemon tahini dressing (water, sesame seed, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice concentrate, honey, parsley, reduced sodium tamari soy sauce [water, soybeans, salt], spice, toasted sesame oil (vegetable oil), salt, garlic, natural flavors)

    • kori says

      Hey Catalina!

      Really great question – tahini is an awesome base for salad dressings and it’s really hard to make it wrong. I don’t eat honey so I omitted that and didn’t feel like I needed the extra salt given the soy sauce. Adding a little garlic certainly wouldn’t be bad, but I didn’t miss it! I will say that since writing this, I’ve learned that I really love the unique flavor of sesame oil, so adding a little of that would probably be great.

      However, it does add more fat and I don’t think you need it! Another reader commented above that she made the dressing as I listed, and she also loved it – so to give you a final answer – yes I do think this is as good as the original and that you’ll love it :)

      I hope you give it a try and report back with your feedback!! I really look forward to hearing from you!

      – Kori

  8. says

    Glad I found this post (and your blog in general!). I’ve been thinking of recreating this salad but I don’t know how to work with beets. Sounds like you get them from a can or jar – easy. This would definitely be good with quinoa or another grain. I think I will still include the roasted tomatoes that they have in the Starbucks recipe. Roasted tomatoes are so good.

  9. Jen says

    I recently read the dressing in the Starbucks version of this salad has honey and was heartbroken! I’m glad to see a vegan friendly version! Thank you so much I can’t wait to try this!

    • kori says


      Did they just add the honey? If so, I missed it on the ingredient list because I ate it a few months ago!!! I hate it when that happens :( Hope you like this version!

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