Colorful and hearty, this quinoa and black bean salad is embellished with corn, avocado, and cilantro. All come together in a hearty Southwestern-flavored black beans and quinoa recipe that’s good as a main or side dish salad.
It goes well with vegan quesadillas and simple soups. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Arugula & Pumpkin Seeds can be served as a side-by-side salad that goes quite well with this one.
Though this salad is features quinoa, feel free to try it with brown rice instead. See the variation in the Notes section of the recipe card.
A few notes about quinoa
Quinoa seems like an established staple in the plant-based world, but for those who have yet to discover it, here are a few basics:
- Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is an ancient food indigenous to the South American Andes. It was introduced to the American natural foods market in the 1980s.
- Quinoa is considered a superfood for its vitamin and mineral profile. Botanically, it’s more of a seed than a grain.
- You can use it as a bed of grain for vegetable or bean dishes as a change of pace from rice; to stuff winter vegetables, especially hard squashes; to make pilafs; and for delicious tabbouli-style salads like this one.
- The most common variety of quinoa grain is a kind of yellowish-tan, but red and black varieties are now available as well. They cook up the same way and taste pretty much the same as well; their appeal is mainly visual. Somtimes you can purchase a mix of all three colors.
- Quinoa cooks quickly and easily — use a ratio of liquid to grain of 2 to 1 (like 2 cups water or broth to 1 cup quinoa).
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
- 1 medium firm, ripe avocado, peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium orange or yellow bell pepper, optional
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, lightly cooked
- 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, or 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, or more, to taste
- 1 small hot fresh chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional
- 1/3 cup vinaigrette, bottled or homemade (see link in Notes), or as needed
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
Optional (add any if you'd like)
- 1 cup halved yellow or red cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup salsa, your favorite variety
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- Combine the quinoa with 1½ cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
- Transfer the quinoa to a serving container to cool. If need be, speed up the cooling process by refrigerating for a while.
- Once the quinoa is just warm, combine it with the remaining ingredients in the container and stir together.
- If you'd like, add tomatoes, salsa, and/or pumpkin seeds.
- Let stand for a few minutes if time allows, or serve at once.
Here’s our Basic Vinaigrette, if you’d like to make your own.
Variation: This is also good made with brown rice, especially if you have any leftovers. You can use 2 to 2 1/2 cups.
If you like this Southwestern Quinoa Salad, you might also enjoy:
Here are more easy vegan salads & sides.