This easy Mexican Quinoa Salad with black beans and the most delicious creamy avocado dressing makes the perfect healthy lunch or dinner.
During hot summer months, I am constantly making batches of hearty grain salads to have for quick and easy healthy lunches and dinners. This Mexican Quinoa Salad with protein-packed quinoa, black beans, corn, and a creamy citrus avocado dressing is at the top of the list.
My favorite part of this recipe is the dressing is creamy from the avocado, slightly spicy from the ancho chili powder, and just sweet enough from the orange juice and honey. Then paired with the hearty quinoa, earthy black beans, and sweet summer corn - it makes one delicious salad.
Looking for a warm side dish? Don't miss this Mexican Quinoa with black beans, red peppers, and corn.
Why You'll Love this Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Plant-based protein: This tasty salad has 14 grams of plant-based protein from the quinoa and black beans,
- Versatile: This salad can be customized in so many ways. Add different beans, more veggies, or add protein. Make the dressing spicier or add extra cilantro. The options are endless.
- Healthy and nutritious: Quinoa is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. Black beans are full of fiber and vitamins. Avocado is full of healthy fats. This salad is wholesome and good-for-you.
This hearty salad is full of healthy, immune-boosting ingredients. Many of these ingredients may already be stocked in your pantry but can also easily be found at your local grocery store.
- Quinoa: This plant-based grain is gluten-free and full of antioxidants. It also boasts contents of Vitamin B, Vitamin E, protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium. I love to add this superfood to my salad since it is very healthy and tasty. It also provides a great, crunchy texture.
- Black Beans: These beans are great toppings in salads and are full of protein, fiber, and iron, and Vitamin B6. They have also been known to possess properties that lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Avocado: This superfood is rich in good fats and vitamins like Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. It also contains significant contents of fiber, potassium, and protein. It also allows for a unique variety of textures in this quinoa salad.
- Corn: It contains high amounts of immune-boosting antioxidants and minerals, such as Vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Corn, like beans, is rich in fiber. Thawed frozen corn works as well since the vegetable is currently out of season. I love to incorporate roasted corn for this salad if I have any on hand. This elevates the texture and provides a smoky flavor.
- Orange: Oranges add both sweetness and tartness to this recipe. It’s one of those surprise ingredients that make the salad something special. Plus it’s packed with Vitamin C.
- Cilantro: This popular herb is high in vitamins, especially Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. It has also been known to improve blood sugar levels and heart health. It makes a great addition to this recipe based on flavor and health benefits.
- Lime Juice: This sour, versatile fruit is a great feature in this recipe. It also contains properties that have been known to boost metabolic health and provide a great source of Vitamin C.
Additional extras: This is one of those salads that you can customize! Consider adding some red bell peppers, queso cotija or queso fresco, pickled red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, or fresh jalapeno slices.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
There are so many ways to customize this Mexican-inspired quinoa salad.
- Add protein: This recipe already contains a bunch of great plant-based protein. Shredded chicken tinga, shrimp, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and salmon are all possible additions to this salad for added nutritional value.
- Switch up your toppings: Add bell peppers, queso fresco, red onions, green onions, cabbage, radishes, or cucumbers to change up the flavor. Add some pepitas or nuts for crunch.
- Make it sweeter: Add honey or agave for some added sweetness to the dressing.
- Add greens: Use any leafy greens you like such as arugula, kale, spinach, or romaine lettuce.
Meal Prep and Storing Leftovers
This is a great make-ahead salad! I love to make it the night before so that the flavors have plenty of time to develop. It can last in the refrigerator for up to four days in a tightly sealed container.
Just make sure to pack the greens, dressing, and orange separately so things don’t get soggy. The dressing will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. The lime juice prevents the avocado from browning.
Serve as a side dish or mix in some extra protein for a hearty meal that will leave you full for hours on end.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making this Mexican-inspired quinoa salad.
If you are short on time, feel free to use frozen quinoa as an alternative to freshly cooked. Ler the quinoa cool before adding it to the salad. Cooked quinoa can also last in the freezer for up to eight months in an airtight container. Prepare some in advance to keep on hand to whip up quinoa-based salads quickly and easily in the future.
If you want to make a warm version of this salad, simply heat up the quinoa and black beans. Then combine with the greens and dressing. Serve immediately since the warm grains will cause the greens to wilt.
Mexican Quinoa Salad
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- 8 cups mixed greens
- 2 cups canned black beans
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup corn (canned or fresh, I roasted mine)
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 orange, segmented
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime, juice
- 1 orange, juice
- 1 tbsp. honey (or agave for vegan, more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/8 cup cilantro
- 2 tbsp. water (more or less as needed)
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- Nutritional Information
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
For even more flavor, char or grill the corn before adding it to the salad.
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