Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette



Some recipes are good because you know you shouldn’t eat them very often, which makes them a treat.  Others are good because you can eat them as often as you’d like, with no guilt whatsoever. My food life is filled with foods from category two, and polka-dotted with treats from the first category.  Food should always be a delight, no matter from the first or second category, don’t you agree?

My favorite kind of cooking happens when categories one and two collide.  Making this quinoa salad is an indulgence in itself, and feels more like an art project than a chore.

The art project begins at the garden…or the farmers market…or at your favorite grocery store. Pretend you are reaching into your deluxe box of Crayons, and have fun choosing your colors.  My Crayola box is filled with black bean, limey green, purple power onion, electric habañero orange, and sweet corn yellow.  What about you?

Cooked and cooled quinoa (prounounced “keen-wah”)  is the perfect background to splash colors upon.  Not only does this little seed have a light nutty flavor and crunchy texture, but it is packed with all sorts of things that are good for you, like protein, iron,  and amino acids.  Lets suffice to say that if Popeye the Sailor Man were around today, he’d probably choose quinoa over spinach.

Now, it’s chop-chop time.  Here’s where a sharp knife will be your best buddy.  Layer your colorful veggies over your quinoa, drizzle your chile-lime vinaigrette, toss it all together, and then stand back to look at your work–a piece of (albeit abstract) art.

I’ll bet your mom would display it on her fridge if she could.  I think my mom will eat it instead.

Southwest Quinoa Salad


This is a Summer salad, through and through.  Choose an array of peppers, taking into consideration level of heat, sweetness and color.  I like to keep a big bowl of this salad in the fridge to eat for lunches.  Refresh with a splash of lime and a pinch of salt the day after you make it.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (any color), cooked and cooled (see instructions below)
  • 1 or 2 avocados, peeled, pit removed, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • kernels from 1 cob corn, or 3/4 cup thawed frozen corn
  • About 1 1/2 cups diced mildly spicy peppers (a mix of bell peppers, anaheim, etc…)
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 small habanero, minced (optional, for heat)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Chile Lime Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Quinoa:

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly  in cold water and drain.  Place 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all all of the water has been absorbed.  When fully cooked, the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of each seed (a white circle).

If the water has evaporated, but the germ ring is not yet visible, add a splash of water, and simmer for a few more minutes.  Set aside until cool.

For the Vinaigrette:

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake until combined, or whisk in a small bowl.

For the Salad:

Put all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette, and gently toss to combine.


Filed under Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes

38 responses to “Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

  1. This salad looks yummy! Specially because it has avocado in it 🙂 I think this would be great for lunch!

  2. Pingback: Southwest Quinoa Salad | The Vegan Daily

  3. Hi Jenny, I followed your recipe and made a yummy dinner for my sweetie and me. I ate leftovers for three meals today, supplemented with a few bowls of oatmeal.
    I would love to add more beans next time, and I added cucumber since I had some. I didn’t have the right oil for the dressing so I used olive oil. Tasted great but I think it would I think the flavors would have popped better with grapeseed oil.

  4. Colleen Panzino

    do we have any calorie count on this for a weight watcher??

  5. Pingback: Quinoa Salad With a Chili-Lime Dressing | My Citrus Craving

  6. Pingback: Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette | Food-Étude

  7. Pingback: Chipotle Quinoa! « Black and White Fitness

  8. Melissa

    OMG deelish! Eating this now! I subbed cucumber since I was out of corn and wanted something else crunchy and vidalia onion since I didn’t have red. All I can say is that I will be making this over and over again! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Pingback: Me, FD, and The Big C | Spoon With Me

  10. I brought this delicious salad to a party and everyone loved it. All of them asked me for the recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Melissa

    Found you through pinterest – made this tonight and it is SO good. I left the habanero out – just too hot for me. But like another commenter, I added red, green and yellow bell peppers, the jalapeno and had to sub the frozen corn with some canned shoepeg since I guess I was out of frozen – oops! First time ever for hubby to have quinoa and he loves it too!! Will make this over and over again.

  12. Andreea

    I made this salad yesterday, and it was delicious! Thanks for a great recipe! I’ll definitely be making this again and again.


  14. I just made this for a family gathering and it’s really delicious I sadly had to leave the corn out due to an allergy but otherwise left it all the same. It’s got a kick and is really delicious!!! Thanks so much for posting.

  15. eating clean

    outstanding flavor

  16. PMB

    I added a naval orange, cut into small wedges — Yummmm!

  17. Nathan

    Great recipe!
    I was out of cayenne, so I substituted Adobo Chipotle Chile powder instead. It gave slightly less kick than the cayenne and added a subtle smoke flavor. Another thought, as I was slicing the vegetables, was that it might be the perfect occasion for whipping out the old food processor as a bit of a time saver. Excellent spring and summer profile would work well with a dry chard.

  18. Emily Wundrock

    Wow! This recipe is awesome! I used a bunch of different hot peppers along with several yellow, orange and red bells. Also used red quinoa, which I prefer to the white. What a colorful dish and that dressing is simply one of the tastiest I’ve had in quite a while. One huge thumbs up for this recipe. I’ll be passing it on to all my friends and family for sure.

  19. Pingback: Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette | 40 Days to a Personal Revolution

  20. This looks great. I just finished making a warm southwestern quinoa dish but this one looks so refreshing! Should of gone with something cooler like this!

  21. We made this last night for our family dinner and it was amazing! I am printing out this recipe to take to the yoga studio today to share with all my vegetarian/vegan friends. Thank you!

  22. whitney

    As a vegetarian, (well, pescatarian, to be precise) I’m always on the lookout for fun and creative recipes sans meat. I love Quinoa, and have been waiting for an idea just like this to pop into my head out of the blue. But it seems you’ve done all the work for me! I read this recipe saying to myself, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?!?!” Can’t wait to try this!

  23. Anna

    This was amazing. The quinoa blends so well with the flavors of the veggies and the vinaigrette, and the soft avocado just melts. Even after using 1/2 a jalapeno and 1/4 habanero the heat is not as much as I would call “spicy”. Next time I’m throwing it all in! Thanks again Jen!

  24. Sara Angel

    Looks great! I linked back to it in my blog…hope this helps!

  25. Pingback: switching gears « my sweetest day

  26. What a colorful and delicious looking salad. I’ve got to give this one a try. Yum!

  27. Loving the corn picture. A work of art!

  28. These are some of the nicest pics I’ve seen in a blog. Impressive!

  29. Tom

    What wonderful texture you have captured in your photographs. I love it…and it looks so….deliciousioso.

  30. What a gorgeous salad. I love the light in your photos. Quinoa is so versatile. I just found a great recipe for breakfast quinoa with fruit and nuts. I’m bookmarking this recipe! Thanks!

  31. Maria Guest

    You got that right! I’ve got my napkin tied around my neck and my fork in hand……….yum!!!

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