California Crab and Quinoa Salad


California Crab and Quinoa Salad is a light, fresh, and refreshing dish!

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

Although Christmas is just a couple days away (squee!) I’m already thinking about January and starting fresh in the food department. Ben and I sort of fell off the wagon in terms of healthy eating after Lincoln was born and to be honest, some weeks I feel like our toes are still dragging in the mud. Often times ordering pizza, picking up Chipotle, or going out to eat are more appealing than cooking after a long and tiring day.

I will say we’ve made a conscious effort to cook at home at least 4 nights a week this past month, and I’m challenging myself to get even more in the groove in the new year now that I have more energy. See, dearest Lincoln has finally figured out how to sleep without a pacifier which means Mom and Dad don’t have to pop it back in his mouth every time it falls out during the night. Sweet, sweet uninterrupted sleep!

Anyway, this plan of mine definitely includes crafting dishes like California Crab and Quinoa Salad for light lunches or suppers. This is the third and final recipe using Alaska King Crab Legs that I created for Hy-Vee this month and it definitely shows that crab doesn’t have to be paired with butter or cream cheese to be fabulous (though it certainly doesn’t hurt!)

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

Fluffy quinoa combines with sweet mango, creamy avocado, zesty green onions, and big hunks of tender Alaska King Crab Legs in a dish that’s sweet, succulent, and super healthy. You’ve got protein-rich quinoa, healthy-fat-filled avocado, and Alaska King Crab which is a great source of low-fat, low-cal, high-quality protein. #winning!

This salad was inspired by two rolls Ben and I always order at our favorite sushi joint. We’ll usually get some specialty rolls then a California Roll (crab, avocado, and cucumber) and Sunshine Roll (tuna, mango, and cream cheese) for “filler”. Salmon nigiri for dessert, of course. Anyway, I took what I like best about both rolls – the crab, avocado, and mango – and made it into a bright and sunny, feel-good salad!

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

Start with 1-1/2lbs Alaska King Crab Legs.

Check out my post on Drunken Alaska King Crab Legs, and the video at the end, for specific instructions on how to get the meat out of the legs. It’s easier than you think. All you need is a kitchen towel and shears.

Just snip up the smooth side of the leg then pry the shell open and peel out the meat.

Next, hand-shred the meat into big hunks. You’ll get about 9oz total. I can’t even look at this picture without drooling. Alaska King Crab is seriously sweet and succulent – it’s been such a joy having an excuse to cook with it so much this month!

Now cook 1 cup rinsed quinoa in a scant 1-3/4 cups water with a dash of salt. Let the quinoa come to room temperature or stash in the fridge to chill. This salad is great served at either temperature.

To the cooked and cooled quinoa add 1 chopped mango, 1 chopped avocado, and 1 chopped green onion, then add the shredded crab.

Finally, whip up a quick and easy Lemon-Agave Vinaigrette to bring the salad together. That’s just 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil with 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons,) 1 Tablespoon agave nectar (could use honey,) 1 minced garlic clove, and lots of salt and pepper. Shake in a jar or whisk in a bowl to combine then drizzle over the salad. You might not need all of it – just add to your heart’s desire!

Scoop into bowls then enjoy!

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

California Crab and Quinoa Salad

serves 6 as a side


California Crab and Quinoa Salad is a light, fresh, and refreshing dish!


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1-1/2lbs King Crab Legs, thawed then meat removed and hand-shredded into big chunks (about 9oz)
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • salt
  • For the Lemon-Agave Vinaigrette:
    • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons)
    • 1 garlic clove, microplaned or finely minced
    • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
    • salt and pepper


  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan then add a dash of salt and rinsed quinoa (be sure to rinse well in fine mesh sieve under cold running water – even quinoa that comes “pre-rinsed”.) Place a lid on top then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, or chill (can be done ahead of time.)
  2. In a large bowl combine cooked quinoa, crab, mango, avocado, and green onion then season with salt. Add ingredients for Lemon-Agave Vinaigrette into a jar with a tight-fitting lid then shake to combine or whisk together in a small bowl. Pour over quinoa mixture (may not need all of it) then toss to coat.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

This is a fabulous dish to make on Sunday then eat all week. Like I mentioned, it’s delicious either cold or room temperature. I hope you enjoy and, I promise, eating healthy never tasted so good!

California Crab and Quinoa Salad #appetizer #salad #alaskakingcrab |

Be sure to check out my other two Alaska King Crab Leg recipes:

Drunken Alaska King Crab Legs

Crab Rangoon Bites

Finally, if I don’t talk to you before Wednesday, MERRY CHRISTMAS and happy holiday, one and all! May everyone’s week be merry and bright!  :D

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  1. Brittany 12.23.2013

    Merry Christmas to you too, Kristin! From all of your internet buddies out here :)

  2. Looks beautiful! And to be honest, as HARD as we tried, it took awhile to get back in the ‘normal groove’ of cooking & eating after our little one was born. But it DOES happen! I promise:) It’s all just a LONG adjustment, but you’re doing a fantastic job! Enjoy Lincoln’s first Christmas…it’ll be one of the best of your whole life:)

  3. i seriously love this recipe. it looks so fresh and delicious! maybe next weekend after i’m feeling all full and puffy from christmas meals.

  4. Stacy 12.23.2013

    Looks fabulous! I love all things Quinoa, so will be making this. Merry Christmas!

  5. Cynthia 12.23.2013

    Merry Christmas Kristen, Ben and sweet little Lincoln :)

  6. Cynthia 12.23.2013

    Kristin…not Kristen ;)

  7. Kelly Mitchem 12.23.2013

    This looks so light and delicious, and healthy! A major plus all around!

  8. Tracy 12.23.2013

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Kristin!

  9. Jillji 12.23.2013

    Ok how did you get rid of the paci? Does he not use it all day? I have a 10 month old dependent on paci for sleep. I’m so tired. Help. ;)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.23.2013

      Cold turkey. He didn’t use it during the day, just for sleep and car rides, but it was so, so bad (as I’m sure you know!) It took about 2 naps crying for 15-20 minutes (with checks/soothing at 10 minutes,) then he basically forgot it existed and sucks on his fingers now. Hands down best decision we ever made – I don’t think we could have gone one more day getting up 5+ times a night!

  10. Amanda 12.23.2013

    Please share your baby sleep secrets. I think I was up 6 times last night… I think she is going through a sleep regression, teething and recovering from a cold all at once. Do you still swaddle?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.23.2013

      I feel you! Read my response to Jillji above re: pacifier. We still swaddle one arm – working on releasing the beast (that’s what I call his left arm because it flails about wildly!) next week!

      • Amanda 12.23.2013

        How did he do with one arm out? How long did it take him to get use to it? I tried the other night and failed. Planning attempt #2 for after Christmas! Doesn’t help that I’m sick and exhausted.

        • Iowa Girl Eats 12.23.2013

          I was prepared for a very long day/night, but honestly he didn’t even seem to notice. That being said, he was still bundled in his bassinet so it wasn’t like he had the wide open space in his crib for it to swing around in. I would maybe just keep trying for a couple of days. I tried unswaddling his left arm about 3 days after the right one and he just wasn’t ready for it. Kept flailing it around, keeping himself awake. We’ll try that one again after Christmas!

  11. Courtney 12.23.2013

    Kristin, Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. I love to see what you’re up to. I live in South Carolina, and I am training for the More Half Marathon in New York City in Apri, 2014. I love to read the recipes and like you, I love food. I need to lose about 12 pounds, so that I can move a little quicker. Thank you for sharing part of your life; you are a role model…

  12. I think I just found tonight’s dinner!

  13. You are such a natural on camera, I say it every time! Both of these recipes sound so delicious! And you know I’m a fan anytime champagne is involved :)

  14. Heidi 12.27.2013

    Kristin, I need your help! Was planning to make this recipe for supper tonight and should have read the recipe more fully before. I just bought the crab today so it hasn’t been thawed. I also wanted to make sure, do I have to steam it first for this recipe or just open up and use?? Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.27.2013

      The crab doesn’t need to be steamed – just thawed! You can try running then under cold running water to try and help the thawing process!

      • Heidi 12.27.2013

        Thanks so much for the help! Turned out great :)

  15. […] kick right now (see Quinoa with Caramelized Butternut Squash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts, California Crab and Quinoa Salad, and Crunchy Quinoa Granola!) I thought I’d re-make the dish using my favorite superfood […]

  16. Andrea 01.14.2014

    Loved it! And so did my hubby. It is a new regular at our house. Do you have nutritional info with it? I didn’t see it.

  17. Johanna 04.17.2014

    This looks lovely! About how many servings does it make?

    • Kristin 04.17.2014

      Whoops! Forgot to include that – it serves 6 as a side. :)

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