Southwest Quinoa Salad
A healthy Southwest Quinoa Salad with zesty lime vinaigrette. This cold quinoa salad can be made ahead for meal prep lunches or dinners.
Quinoa is a great base for salads because it soaks up the flavors of the dressing and seasonings until it is extra flavorful. This southwest quinoa salad has crunchy red bell pepper, sweet corn and black beans. The flavors of chili and lime make the perfect southwest dressing!
I love to make a batch of this salad on Sunday and then eat it for lunch during the week. It’s filling and extra tasty with guacamole. I divide it into individual meal prep containers for grab and go lunch portions.
Quinoa is one of my favorite superfoods because the tiny seeds contain so much nutrition. Quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. This makes quinoa a great source of protein in vegetarian meals.
You can make this southwest quinoa salad with white or red quinoa. All quinoa has a nutty, earthy flavor. This flavor is stronger in red quinoa and milder in white quinoa. Red quinoa also has a chewier, almost crunchy texture.
Learn more about quinoa, including how to cook quinoa.
How to make this southwest salad with quinoa
To make this quinoa salad, you will first need to rinse your quinoa. Quinoa has a bitter outer coating called saponin that can be removed by rinsing the quinoa under running water. Place your quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse for one minute.
Set the rinsed quinoa aside for a minute. You’re going to saute two minced cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Then you’ll add the quinoa to the pot along with some vegetable broth (or water). Cooking the quinoa with the garlic and broth flavors the quinoa. You will simmer the quinoa in the broth until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
While the quinoa cooks, prepare the salad dressing. We’ll be making a quick lime vinaigrette. You can either whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or shake them up in a mason jar with a lid. For the dressing you will need lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
Once the quinoa is cooked toss it together with the remaining salad ingredients: corn, black beans, chopped bell pepper, green onions and fresh cilantro.
Finally, pour over the dressing and stir gently until everything is well combined.
Tips for making this southwest quinoa salad:
- You can make this quinoa salad with white or red quinoa. Be sure to rinse your quinoa well before cooking it to remove the bitter coating on the seeds called saponin.
- Follow my easy tips and steps for how to cook quinoa on the stove or in an Instant Pot.
- This quinoa salad is delicious served as is, but it’s even better with chopped avocado or a spoonful of guacamole on top!
- You can serve this quinoa salad warm or cold. It will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator so it’s a great option for make ahead lunches.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
For the salad:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup quinoa well rinsed and drained
- 1 3/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup canned corn drained
- 15 ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 4 green onions sliced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
For the lime vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- guacamole or avocado if desired
- Heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the quinoa and vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 12-16 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- While the quinoa cooks, prepare the lime vinaigrette. In a small bowl or jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk (or shake in a jar with a lid) until well combined.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and stir in the corn, black beans, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro. Add the dressing and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Serve salad warm or cold, with guacamole or sliced avocado if desired.
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