Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

My favorite taste-tester says that the first bite of this salad takes him straight back to Deep Mexico. The salad is hearty with high-protein quinoa, crunchy with vegetables and bright with lime. It's a real crowd pleaser!

Vegan. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. Great for Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep.
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad ♥ KitchenParade.com, a great make-ahead salad recipe. Hearty with quinoa and crunchy with vegetables, bright with lime. A real crowd pleaser.

  • "Really loved this salad." ~ Lesley


Say "allillanchu" (that means hello!) to quinoa, a new food friend.

Her name is pronounced KEEN-wah and she’s from South America where she’s been cultivated for five thousand years. The ancient Incas called her "chesiya mama", that means "mother grain".

But the fact is, quinoa is not a grain at all but the fruit of a plant related to beets, chard and spinach. Still, she’s prepared and eaten like a grain so food people, for short, call her a grain.

This new friend, quinoa? She cooks fast, twice as fast as rice. She’s lighter and fluffier than couscous and tastes, subtly, like toasted nuts.

She’s packed with protein, a complete protein like meat’s. This means that quinoa is one of the healthiest grains around, some say, the super-grain of the future.

Long before Whole Foods and the explosion of international products online and on supermarket shelves, I cooked quinoa off and on. But it was hard to find and then only on dusty shelves in the odd corner natural-foods store where turnover was slow. Me, I’m glad to be re-introduced to the contemporary product, now raised in North as well as South America.

Today's Chuckle

As I update this page almost 15 years later, I'm chuckling how "new" and "exotic" quinoa was back in 2005 when I first shared the recipe for Quinoa & Black Bean Salad. How new and exotic, you ask? The now much-missed Gourmet magazine, described quinoa as "small disk-shaped seeds" available at "specialty food shops and health food stores". Now, of course, quinoa is a common ingredient, a whole food that definitely enhances our culinary repertoire!

RESOURCES quinoa recipes


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 8 cups
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 - 4 tablespoons olive oil (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Zest & juice from 3 limes (about 5 tablespoons juice & pulp)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn (no need to thaw or cook)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers, minced (see TIPS)
  • 2 cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), chopped
  • Additional salt, if needed

QUINOA Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium high. Rinse quinoa well under cold running water. Add salt and quinoa to water, return to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 15 minutes; the quinoa should "puff" up considerably, otherwise, it's not ready yet. Transfer to colander to drain and cool slightly.

DRESSING Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

BEANS & VEGETABLES Add the beans and vegetables to the bowl, stirring well to distribute the liquid throughout.

FINISH Stir quinoa into vegetables, really mixing to distribute. Taste and add salt if needed.

SERVE Cover and refrigerate to cool for at least 30 minutes. Can be made ahead but do serve it at room temperature. Keeps for several days.

    ALANNA's TIPS (So Many Tips!)
  • CROWD PLEASER This easy salad is a real crowd-pleaser. It's perfect for warm-weather and outdoor potlucks since it has no mayonnaise.
  • COUSCOUS I've also made this with whole wheat couscous instead of quinoa. To "cook" the couscous, just toss it with the vinegar and lime juice while assembling the other ingredients.
  • MUCH LESS OIL These days, I some times use only a tablespoon or two of oil. It's still delicious! Plus, without the oil, the lime shines through.
  • FRESH CORN During the summer, use fresh sweet corn, sliced straight off the ears into the bowl – luscious, so sweet and tender, no need to cook. Three ears will yield 1-1/2 cups of corn kernels but fresh corn is so good, you may want to add another ear or two.
  • JALAPEÑO PEPPERS Where’s the heat in peppers? The flesh? No. The seeds? Sorry. The membranes that attach the seeds to the flesh? Yep. If your family appreciates plenty of heat, include bits of membrane. Do wash your hands well with soap after touching even relatively mild jalapeño peppers. You may not feel the burn on your fingers right away. But later, if you accidentally touch your eyes or lips, watch out!
  • CILANTRO The cilantro can "disappear" into the salad if you make it more than a couple of hours of time. To combat this, stir in the cilantro just before serving.
  • DILL Substitute fresh dill for a good portion of the cilantro, another great combination.
  • SKIP THE QUINOA! Oh! and leave out the quinoa entirely for a really good bean salad.
  • SALT For the longest time, I made this salad with two teaspoons of salt in the salad. In the latest batch, that seemed waaaay too salty so I've cut that back to one teaspoon.
  • TOASTING Once, I tried toasting the quinoa before cooking it, it's not worth the trouble.
  • CAN YOU TELL? This is one of my very favorite salads, it's so good and so versatile. People love it and so do I!
Adapted from Gourmet, July 1994.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup Serving, made with 1 tablespoon oil: 101 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 17g Carb; 3g Fiber; 92mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol; 4g Protein. This recipe has been "Alanna-sized". WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 0

More Hearty Salads

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Panzanella (Classic Italian Tomato Salad) Wild Rice Salad Confetti Potato Salad
~ more Favorite Summer Salad Recipes ~
~ more salad recipes ~
~ more recipes perfect for potlucks ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ quinoa ~
~ limes ~
~ canned beans ~
~ corn ~
~ bell pepper ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. very wholesome and nutritious. This salad seems so apt for the ONE DISH MEAL- Salad event i am hosting. I would love for you to send this recipe for the event and link back. Do check the rules for the event in my site. Another note, you have a lovely site, where I can try out many new non Indian Recipes. Thanks for sharing them in much detail.

  2. Really loved this salad. I plan on eating it for lunch this week.

  3. Looks great! I made a similar salad on Memorial Day adding chunks of mango.

  4. Because I don't eat raw onion, I'd cook the onion in with the quinoa, to mellow the raw taste. Beautiful salad.

  5. Sounds similar to a salad I made recently only I didn't use corn. Love the idea of more lime flavor!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna