Alternatively titled, “The One with the New Lunchtime Obsession.”
I don’t know about you but anytime I hear the name “Jennifer Aniston” followed by pretty much anything else, I’m in. If it works for Jennifer Aniston, it works for me!
That said, I recently stumbled upon a dish that Jen once described as her “perfect salad” and I couldn’t resist making it the very same day. Ding, ding, ding – we had a winner!
The Jennifer Aniston Salad is fresh, crunchy, healthy, and packed with plant-based protein. I’ve been eating it on repeat as a light lunch and protein-filled snack after a challenging workout.
Could this salad BE any more health goddess-esque?!
Watch How to Make It!
Not THAT Salad
If you’re a Friends television show fanatic then you probably know that Jennifer Aniston reports that she ate the same salad every day for 10 years with co-stars Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow while filming the series.
THIS salad is not THAT salad.
The salad Jen ate on the set of Friends was a Cobb Salad, while this salad is a riff on a tabbouleh. She shared it years ago on Instagram with the caption “My perfect salad”, and was nice enough to also list the ingredients that were inside her bowl. Celebrities — they’re just like us!
What’s in the Jennifer Aniston Salad
- Quinoa: The salad Jen shared on Instagram was bulgur wheat-based but since bulgur isn’t gluten free, I swapped it with cooked quinoa instead. Quinoa is a nutrient-dense seed, not a grain, and is a great source of plant-based protein, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock: I recommend you cook the quinoa in chicken stock or chicken broth instead of water to give it more flavor. Opt for vegetable broth or stock to keep this recipe vegetarian.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are high in fiber and protein. I use low-sodium, canned chickpeas for convenience.
- Cucumber: Diced English cucumber provides a fresh, satisfying crunch and doesn’t need to be peeled nor seeded first. Feel free to use regular or persian cucumbers instead.
- Red Onion: Minced red onion adds a nice, spicy crunch to this quinoa salad. If you’re sensitive to raw onion, chopped green onion tastes great too.
- Fresh Herbs: Both fresh mint and fresh parsley totally stand out in this recipe. If you’re hesitant about the mint, especially, PLEASE give it a try at least once – it’s a game changer! Herbs not only provide a refreshing flavor, but antioxidants and vitamins too.
- Pistachios: Minced pistachios provide a salty, satisfying crunch plus flavor and protein. Chopped walnuts, almonds, or even sunflower seeds would be good alternatives.
- Feta Cheese: Crumbled feta cheese adds tangy flavor to this easy, healthy salad. If you’d like to keep the salad dairy free and vegan, you can use vegan feta or simply leave it out. I’ve heard great things about VioLife vegan feta.
- Lemon Dressing: While Jen didn’t mention a specific dressing in her Instagram post, I think a simple combination of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, plus a drizzle of honey brightens up the whole dish.
Great for Meal Prep
This recipe makes a TON of salad which is great because you can portion it out for easy lunches all week long. Simply mix everything up, including the dressing, then scoop into individual size storage containers, or wide-mouth mason jars with lids.
Add any protein or additional lettuces on top then cover. Voila — instant, healthy lunches for the week!
What to Serve it With
Personally I think this quinoa and chickpea salad is totally satisfying on its own, but feel free to pair it with additional protein / healthy fats. Here are some ideas:
- Grilled chicken
- Roasted chicken
- Roasted shrimp
- Steak (pan fry or on the grill)
- Salmon (roasted or pan fried)
- Sliced avocado
The Jennifer Aniston Salad has been SO well received by readers and what I love is that they’ve found ways to make it their own! Here are some ideas on how to put your own spin on this viral salad recipe:
- Cheese swap. Swap feta cheese for crumbled goat cheese. Honey goat cheese would be divine in here!
- Nut swap. Use chopped roasted cashews, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds instead of pistachios.
- Add lettuce. Serve the salad over a bed of baby spinach, mixed greens, or chopped romaine.
- Add Veggies. Pump up the veggies by adding chopped celery, tomato, peppers, or carrots.
- Salty. Mix chopped kalamata or Italian green olives into the salad.
- Sweet. Add dried cranberries for a pop of sweet.
Fresh, crunchy, and healthy to boot, I hope you’ll give this gorgeous salad a try! Let’s get to it.
How to Make the Jennifer Aniston Salad
Step 1: Cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable stock.
Bring chicken or vegetable stock to a boil in a small pot then add the dry quinoa, turn the heat down, and then cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the stock has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
The cooking process is very similar to cooking rice. You’ll know the quinoa is done when it “pops” into what look like tiny little springs. The texture is so great.
Scoop the quinoa into a storage dish or large bowl with a lid to cool before placing into the refrigerator to chill completely. Tip: I usually do this a day ahead of time so the chilled quinoa is ready to toss together with the other ingredients.
Step 2: Assemble.
Once the quinoa is chilled, add all your goodies. We’ve got canned chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed, chopped pistachios, crumbled feta cheese, diced cucumber, and minced red onion.
Plus lots of chopped fresh herbs including parsley and mint. SO GOOD.
Step 3: Make the Lemon Dressing.
Last step is to whisk up a simple Lemon Dressing to dress the salad with. To a small mixing bowl, or to a mason jar with a lid, add equal parts lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, plus with a drizzle of honey, and pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk or shake to combine.
Step 4: Dress the salad.
Drizzle however much of the lemon dressing you’d like over the quinoa salad then toss to combine – you do NOT need to add all the dressing! Serve right away or stash in the refrigerator for later!
How to Store
Store the dressed salad in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. You can store it in the big mixing bowl with a lid, or scoop into individual size storage containers. This salad also makes great mason jar salads! Scoop into wide-mouth mason jars then grab and go!
I hope you love this simple yet seriously stunning quinoa salad from Miss Jennifer Aniston herself! Enjoy!
More Healthy Salad Recipes
- Berry Quinoa Chicken Salad
- Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing
- Chickpea “Chicken” Salad
- Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Italian Sub Salad
- Italian Chickpea Salad
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Jennifer Aniston Salad
The Jennifer Aniston Salad is fresh, crunchy, and packed with protein! Enjoy this light, gluten free salad as a healthy lunch or dinner.
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, minced
- 1/2 packed cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 loosely-packed cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted salted pistachios, chopped
- 1 cup (4oz) crumbled feta cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the Lemon Dressing:
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For the Lemon Dressing: Add ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid, or small bowl, then shake or whisk to combine.
- Add chicken or vegetable stock to a small saucepan over high heat then bring to a boil. Add quinoa then turn heat down to low, place a lid on top, and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth has been absorbed, 15 minutes. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork then scoop into a storage container or large mixing bowl with a lid to cool. Once cool, cover then refrigerate until chilled. Can be done a day or two ahead of time.
- Add chilled quinoa to a large mixing bowl then add remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing (do not need to use all if you don't want to!) then toss to combine and serve, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Leave a comment and star rating if you loved the recipe! Thank you for considering!
- Be sure to purchase quinoa that’s labeled “pre-rinsed”. I like Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa.
- The quinoa is best cooked a day ahead of time so it’s chilled and ready to be mixed with the rest of the salad ingredients on the day you want to eat.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin