Loaded with fresh toppings and a delicious chili lime dressing, this southwest quinoa salad tastes vibrant and bold. It can also be made ahead of time, which makes it popular for meal prep!
About The Recipe
This Southwest Quinoa Salad is made with a base of quinoa and topped with southwest-inspired ingredients: sweet corn, protein-rich black beans, juicy tomatoes, crisp red onions, creamy avocado, and a hint of fresh cilantro. Tying it all together is the 5-ingredient chili lime dressing, which is zesty, bold, and makes every bite flavorful.
Popular for meal prep, this cold salad can be made ahead of time and is hearty enough to enjoy as lunch or dinner.
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe. The full recipe and ingredient list can be found at the bottom of the page.
- Canned corn
- Canned black beans
- Red onion
- For the Dressing: Lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin
How to Make Southwest Quinoa Salad
Here's how to make this easy recipe in 4 simple steps:
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Add it to 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat to low. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, until cooked. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the dressing.
- Add the quinoa to a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss to mix. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- For best flavor, chill your salad for 10 minutes or more (covered, in the fridge) before serving.
Here are important notes some ingredients and popular substitutions:
Quinoa: Rinse it well to remove bitterness. This ancient grain is a nutritional powerhouse, containing protein and fiber. You can use white quinoa (as the recipe calls for) or any other variation (tri-color, red). Other whole grains such as couscous or bulgur can be excellent substitutes, offering a slightly different texture.
Corn: This recipe calls for canned corn but you could also opt for for fresh corn if it’s in season or use frozen corn. Corn adds sweetness and is a trademark of southwestern cuisine.
Black Beans: A fantastic source of fiber and protein, these beans contribute to the salad's heartiness. Pinto beans or kidney beans could be used instead if you prefer.
Tomatoes: Bursting with flavor, tomatoes add a juicy vibrant element to this salad. You can use your preferred type of tomatoes: cherry, grape, or diced Roma tomatoes.
Red Onion: Provides a sharp and crisp bite, enhancing the overall texture. Dice your onion finely so that it can be distributed throughout the salad. For a milder flavor, consider using green onions or chives in place of red onions.
Cilantro: Adds a fresh and citrusy note. If you're not a cilantro fan, parsley makes a fantastic alternative or you can skip adding herbs altogether.
Lime juice: This is an important part of the dressing and ties the flavors of the salad together. Fresh-squeezed lime juice is recommended, but you could also use lemon juice for a similar flavor.
About The Dressing
The dressing for this salad is a 5-ingredient chili lime vinaigrette. It’s made with olive oil, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.
The dressing enhances the southwest-inspired flavors of this salad and gives it a rich texture as it coats each bite.
Other Dressing Options
Here are a few other alternative dressings that you can make or buy for this salad:
- Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
Frequently Asked Questions
This salad has a hint of spice from the chili powder. If you want to make it spicy, you could add cayenne pepper.
Yes, this is a great recipe to make in advance! The flavors marinate and enhance as it sits, making it even more flavorful. This makes it an ideal recipe for meal prep or to make ahead of time.
Yes, this recipe is vegan. It's made with a base of quinoa and topped with vegetables, giving it a hearty mix of plants and nutrients.
Store your southwest quinoa salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
The flavors will meld and marinate over time, which makes this recipe an excellent make-ahead option for meal prep.
Before cooking your quinoa, rinse it thoroughly. This step removes the natural coating, preventing any bitter taste. A simple way to do this is by using a fine mesh strainer.
If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment & rating at the bottom of this page!Print