Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
This nutritious Southwest Quinoa Salad is packed with healthy plant-based ingredients and tossed in a homemade lime dressing. Enjoy as a main dish, side dish, or workweek friendly meal prep. Gluten-free, Oil-free option.
This Southwest Quinoa Salad features protein-rich quinoa, creamy black beans, and fresh tomatoes, red bell pepper, sweet corn, and zesty lime dressing. Have this vibrant and delicious dish ready in just 35 minutes!
Table of Contents
Spice Up Your Salad Game
If you’re looking for a cold quinoa salad that’s packed with both flavor and nutrition, look no further than this healthy quinoa salad. It’s a great source of protein, packed with fresh vegetables, essential amino acids, dietary fiber, and nutty flavor. Prepare it Sunday night for a quick and simple meal prep or whip it up with a few simple steps on busy weeknights or lazy weekends. Enjoy alone or serve with a side of your favorite tortilla chips, Restaurant-Style Guacamole and Easy Homemade Salsa for a satisfying plant-powered meal the whole family will love.
What You Need for Southwest Quinoa Salad
This healthy, Southwest-inspired salad is made with quinoa and just 12 more affordable salad ingredients, including a zesty dressing. Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll need:
- Quinoa: White quinoa is my go-to in this healthy quinoa salad, but any variety of quinoa will do. Try red quinoa or tri-color quinoa for a change.
- Fresh veggies: I stuck to the basics for classic Southwest flavors and used grape tomatoes, frozen sweet corn, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Feel free to make swaps based on what you have on hand. For example, fresh corn or canned corn are great alternatives or leave out the jalapeño if you’re sensitive to spice.
- Black beans: You’ll need 1 can of black beans or about 1 1/2 cooks of beans cooked from dry. If desired, swap the black beans out for another bean such as pinto beans, red kidney beans, or even garbanzo beans.
- Dressing: This zesty lime dressing ties all the flavors together with a simple blend of olive oil, fresh lime juice, agave, and salt.
How to Make Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Cook the quinoa until light and fluffy. Set aside until cool.
- Shake the dressing ingredients together until emulsified.
- Combine the cooked and cooled quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing on top, then mix well until evenly distributed.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until chilled.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Always rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer! Rinsing uncooked quinoa not only helps remove any dirt and debris from the harvesting and packaging process, but also reduces the bitterness. Quinoa is coated with saponins, a naturally occurring compound that helps protect the plant from predators as it grows. Rinsing quinoa thoroughly before cooking helps remove any leftover saponins and reduces the chance of the quinoa tasting bitter.
- Rest the quinoa for the full 5 minutes. After the quinoa has simmered for 15 minutes, I recommend turning off the heat and allowing the quinoa to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. This helps make the quinoa fluffy, firm and fully hydrated.
Quinoa is a naturally complete protein making this quinoa salad hearty enough to enjoy alone as a lunch or dinner main. It also makes a delicious side dish or potluck recipe! Enjoy topped with creamy avocado, crispy tortilla strips, pumpkin seeds, “feta cheese,” additional fresh cilantro, or as desired.
If you’re looking for more healthy quinoa recipes, you’ll also love this Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad, this Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Red Curry Dressing and this Quinoa & Arugula Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes!
How to Store this Southwest Quinoa Salad
Leftover black bean quinoa salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you’d like to freeze this quinoa salad, I’d recommend preparing it without the diced red pepper and cherry tomatoes. These ingredients texture considerably once frozen and thawed. To keep it fresh and crisp, freeze the salad without and add it in once thawed and ready to serve.
Substitutions and Variations
- Oil-free option: Swap the dressing for another homemade favorite, such as this Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Dressing or this Creamy Cilantro Dressing.
- Quinoa substitutions: If you’re out of quinoa, try another whole grain such as farro, barley, couscous, or orzo pasta.
- Add protein: Quinoa and black beans are both rich in protein, but if you’re looking to boost your salad’s protein content even more, add Crispy Tofu, Baked Tempeh, or an extra cup of black beans.
Although quinoa is commonly considered a grain, it is technically a seed and surprisingly belongs to the same family as leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and beets.
Quinoa in and of itself is gluten-free, but is often harvested with glutinous grains such as wheat. This means that cross contamination is possible. If you are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease, purchase certified gluten-free quinoa to be on the safe side.
When cooking quinoa on the stovetop (my preferred method!), I recommend using 1 3/4 cups of water or vegetable broth for every cup of quinoa. If you choose to cook the quinoa using an alternative method, such as a pressure cooker, less water will be required. According to this Instant Pot Quinoa recipe, 1:1.5 is the correct ratio.
Yes! Quinoa is a great basic to keep stocked in the freezer. To freeze quinoa alone, allow it to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer bag or freezer safe container, such as a glass mason jar. Once frozen, quinoa will keep for up to 6 months.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Southwest Quinoa Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 15 ounces black beans
- 10 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1 red bell pepper small dice
- 1/4 red onion small dice
- 1 jalapeno small dice
- 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves chopped
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice about 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cook the Quinoa: Rinse the quinoa and let drain, then add to a pot with the garlic powder, cumin, salt, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing; set aside to let cool.
- Make the Dressing: Add the oil, lime juice, agave, and salt to a small jar. Seal and shake well, until emulsified. Set aside.
- Combine: Add the cooled quinoa to a large bowl along with the black beans, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Pour the dressing on top and mix well, until evenly distributed.
- Serve: Serve immediately, or let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill and allow all flavors to combine. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.