Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing (Trader Joe’s copycat recipe)

Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad

Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing

Everyone I know loves Trader Joe’s.  Foods are fresh, unique, healthy (for the most part) and their pre-made salads are too cool for words.  You can choose from over a dozen different varieties covering Southwest, Asian, Italian, vegan etc.  A very popular salad is the Lemon Chicken Arugula with its bright orange sweet pimiento dressing.  The Trader Joe’s title doesn’t adequately describe all that’s in this super nutritious salad.  I’ve attempted to recreate the recipe (with a more descriptive title) for you and, even if I say so myself, the dressing is to die for!  I’ve omitted the chicken for this version but a suggested marinade and instructions to add chicken is listed at the end of the recipe.  Please let me know what you think of it.  It’s a winner in my book!

Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing (Trader Joe’s copycat recipe)

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

  • Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing
  • 4 cups arugula lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/4 cup dried currants or blueberries
  • 1/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts (optional)
  • Pimiento dressing
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Marinade for lemon chicken (optional)
  • 1 pound trimmed boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Combine arugula, couscous, red quinoa, carrot, green onion, currants and nuts in large bowl. Toss to combine.
  2. For the Dressing: Combine roasted red peppers and remaining dressing ingredients except olive oil in container of food processor fitted with metal blade. Cover and process until smooth. Slowly pour olive oil through shoot while processor is on to incorporate.
  3. If you desire less pulp in dressing, pour dressing through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl, pressing with a spoon to extract as much fluid as possible. Discard solids in strainer.
  4. For the chicken (optional): Place chicken in heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Add marinade ingredients to bag and seal. Squeeze bag with hands to distribute marinade around chicken. Chill in refrigerator for up to 8 hours or until ready to grill. Remove chicken from bag and place chicken on prepared grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Allow to cool slightly. Cut chicken into slices and arrange on salad.


  1. calene borup says:

    I’m SO excited you posted this recipe! It is going to save me so much work, because after having this salad at Trader Joe’s, I was going to try to recreate it myself. Thank you, Karen!!

    • Karen says:

      My daughter Meredith got me hooked on this salad and I loved the dressing so much. I like how this version turned out and hope you will too!

  2. Kim Cowley says:

    I love quinoa but have not had great luck with cooking it. Sometimes it comes out perfect and other times it has a gummy texture and soapy flavor. Does it depend on the brand? I was told to wash/rinse it well first, and this has helped. How do you cook it?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim: I rinse it like you do and then I put it into my rice cooker with the recommended quantity of water and let it go. It turns out perfect, light and fluffy every time. I use the brand at Fred Meyer called Village Harvest. Hope that helps. Karen

  3. Frankie Laney says:

    I just discovered this salad at TJ’s and immediately started a search for a recipe, and I found your site.
    I rarely like foods or salads as much a I love this one.
    I will give your recipe a try, I especially love the dressing and the two grains. I see that you have used Israeli couscous and not the Moroccan style, I don’t know about the difference. Maybe availability? Thank you for creating this one, now anxious to try it!

    • Karen says:

      It was love at first sight when I first tasted this salad at TJ’s. I found the Israeli couscous (or Pearl Couscous) at TJ’s and my local grocery store. Bob’s Red Mill makes a nice version. It is larger and takes just a little longer to cook, but not much. Let me know what you think and thanks for posting. Karen

    • Karen says:

      I fell in love with this salad, the first time I tried it and wanted to try to recreate it. I found the Israeli couscous (Pearl Couscous) at TJ’s as well as my local grocery stores. Bob’s Red Mill makes a good version. It takes a little longer to cook; however. Let me know what you think of the recipe and thanks for posting.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I just made this salad….great copycat! I will say that this salad is a labor intensive meal, but totally worth it. There’s a lot you can do a day ahead with the quinoa, couscous, and chicken, then just assemble the next day or prep ahead even for a few days’ worth of lunch salads. The dressing itself is a real keeper. I had some quinoa and couscous left and mixed them up with the dressing and it was yummy just like that! Thank you for posting this! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      I’m so happy you made this. It’s been buried in the salad archive for a while. I love the unique flavors of the dressing combined with all the wholesome grains and arugula. I agree that it’s rather labor intensive but glad you put in the work. Thanks for commenting Stephanie.

    • Karen says:

      True, there are no pimientos in the dressing which is misleading, I know. The ingredient list on the Trader Joe salad does not list pimientos but rather uses roasted red bell peppers which is what I chose to use. Roasted red bell peppers are so similar to pimientos so you could swap one for the other very easily. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply