Recipe: Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

Recipe: Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

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Kelli Foster
May 30, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You're going to want to keep this salad firmly planted in your summer meal plan rotation and at the ready for all of your picnics and potlucks. It is what I consider a multi-purpose, do-it-all salad — one that everyone can eat. It gets its bulk from protein-rich pantry staples like quinoa and beans, and picks up freshness, crunch, and color from a medley of veggies before it's tied together with a zippy chile-lime dressing. You can count on it to hold its own as the main course or a side that pairs with all your summer favorites.

Cool the Quinoa in a Single Layer

There's a special trick I always use when making quinoa that will be used for room-temperature or chilled salads. As soon as the grains are finished cooking, I spread them in a single layer on a large baking sheet, then pop it in the fridge to cool. Yes, it's one more dish to add to the pile, but I'd only recommend it if it's totally worth it. And in this case, it is worth it! This step helps the quinoa cool faster, but more importantly it allows each grain to keep its toothsome, chewy texture. In return, you get a crowd-pleasing salad with textured grains that have distinct pop and chewy bite.

Learn more: Cooking Grains for Your Lunch Salad? Don't Forget This Final Step.

Fresh Salads for Your Next Party, Potluck, or Backyard BBQ

This summer go beyond the classics and wow the crowd at every potluck with an impressive party-worthy salad. This week we're sharing five recipes to give you plenty of fresh salad inspiration. Easy enough to pull together any day of the week, these salads go big to serve the whole crowd, and each one has a fun twist to make it stand out among a sea of sides.

Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

Serves 6 to 8

For the salad:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 small red onion, small dice
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 medium avocados, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, divided

For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Cook the quinoa: Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and refrigerate until cooled completely, 10 to 15 minutes.

Make the dressing: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified and combined.

Assemble the salad: Place the cooled quinoa, black beans, corn, onion, bell peppers, avocados, and all but 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with the reserved 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. The quinoa can be cooked up to 1 day in advance, then cooled and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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