Asparagus, Quinoa, & Rice Salad with Goat Cheese & Maple-Tahini Dressing

By Camille Styles
Asparagus, Quinoa, & Rice Salad with Goat Cheese & Maple-Tahini Dressing // Love this Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side Dish!

This post is sponsored by Mars SEEDS OF CHANGE® and Target

It’s become a running Thanksgiving joke at our house. Each year when I start planning the menu for our family feast, everyone else votes to have the exact same menu items as last year, but I just can’t help myself from spicing things up with something a little different. And most likely, a lot healthier. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cozy flavors of the season, but I’m always looking for ways to embrace tradition while incorporating more nutritious ingredients that won’t leave me in a mashed potatoes-and-stuffing coma. This year’s plan? Stick to Adam’s showpiece fried turkey for the main, add in my dad’s classic cornbread stuffing and my mother-in-law’s broccoli casserole. My mom’s got the pies handled (pumpkin and pecan) and I’ll be filling in the side dish gaps with roasted sweet potatoes, cranberry chutney, and this grain salad that’s bursting with all my favorite flavors of fall. Keep scrolling for the recipe.

*photos by kate zimmerman


Nothing feels more autumnal than a hearty grain salad studded with dried fruits and seasonal vegetables, and this year my Asparagus, Quinoa, & Rice Salad with Goat Cheese & Maple-Tahini Dressing will be a gorgeous addition on our Thanksgiving table.

Since we always host Thanksgiving for both sides of our family, one requirement for any dish that I’m in charge of making is that it needs to be either (a) quick and easy, or (b) can be totally prepped in advance. Bonus points if it fits into both categories, like this one! The idea for this salad was born from our partnership with Seeds of Change, using its line of Certified Organic Rice & Grain Blends that take (wait for it) 90 seconds to heat and serve. Check and check.

Let’s talk about the Thanksgiving food prep countdown, shall we? Because nothing’s worse than trying to cook everything at the last minute and realizing that four menu items can’t physically fit into your oven at once.

Roast the asparagus a few hours before the meal, then leave it to hang out in your serving bowl at room temp. Add the apricots, thyme, goat cheese, and toasted pecans at your leisure, then just before serving, warm the rice and add it to the serving bowl along with the tahini-maple dressing. The heat from the rice will rewarm all the other ingredients and make the goat cheese just a little melty and soooo delicious.

I’ve also been making this grain salad into a quick and easy weeknight main course by adding a few handfuls of arugula to make it more substantial and add some green goodness. It’s a perfect option for #meatlessmonday since the quinoa equals a healthy plant-based protein source. Can’t wait to hear if you give this one a try, and I’d love to hear how you guys are putting a twist on the Thanksgiving meal this year!

This post is in partnership with Seeds of Change. Thanks for supporting our sponsor. Save 10% with Target Cartwheel on any SEEDS OF CHANGE® Certified Organic food products.
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Asparagus, Quinoa, & Rice Salad with Goat Cheese & Maple-Tahini Dressing

Serves 4

Asparagus, Quinoa, & Rice Salad with Goat Cheese & Maple-Tahini Dressing

By Camille Styles


  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2" lengths
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 pack Seeds of Change Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the tahini-maple vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a jar -- shake to combine.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread out and roast for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cover the chopped apricots with hot water and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Add pecans to the baking sheet with the asparagus, and continue roasting for 5 minutes, just until asparagus is crisp-tender and pecans are starting to become toast-y. Transfer asparagus and pecans to a serving bowl.
  4. To the bowl, add apricots, goat cheese, and thyme. Prepare Quinoa & Brown Rice according to package directions, then add to the salad along with a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette, a pinch of kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper, and toss it all together to combine. Eat!

Comments (5)

  1. Blush & Pearls says:

    I love that this dish looks beautiful and is healthy as well. I have some quinoa that I need to use up so this is a great option.

    Angela / Blush & Pearls

  2. Kristina says:

    That is the only quinoa I will eat! So, so yummy! Making this salad this week!

  3. Katelyn Nicks says:

    This is brilliant! So delicious, healthy, and beautiful 🙂

  4. Phyllis says:

    Since this is almost asparagus season in NY, this recipe will be perfect. Thank you.

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