Mexican Quinoa is a light and refreshing quinoa salad made with tomatoes, black beans, cilantro and a lime dressing for a flavorful refreshing, healthy Mexican side dish.
When I go out for Mexican food, I have been know to eat more than my fair share of chips and salsa. I know I am not alone!
When I make tacos at home, I am often tempted to serve chips and salsa as a side dish, but my body tells me a healthier, lighter side is the wiser way to go.
Thankfully, this recipe for Mexican Quinoa may not be traditional, but it is a healthy and DELICIOUS Mexican side dish.
Mexican Quinoa Salad
Mexican quinoa is made with seasoned quinoa, black beans, tomatoes and onions and dressed with a fresh lime vinaigrette. The cilantro and feta are the perfect finishing touches to this easy black bean quinoa salad but are optional for you if you want this be vegan or you are one of the unfortunate people that hate cilantro.
Mexican quinoa salad is is one of my favorite go-tos for a summer picnic, a pot-luck, or even a quick meatless meal, or as I mentioned earlier, as a side dish for taco night. I often prep some of this Mexican quinoa salad on the weekend–then I have a healthy, filling, lunch that I look forward to diving into each day.
How To Make Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Prepare quinoa.
- You can prepare on stove or use Instant Pot Quinoa.
- Whisk together the Lime Dressing.
- Toss the quinoa with the lime dressing.
- At this point it is best to refrigerate the Mexican quinoa for 30 minutes if you would like to serve as a salad. If not proceed with the recipe and serve warm.
- After the quinoa has cooled, add in the beans, tomatoes, onions, feta and cilantro and toss.
Variations on Easy Mexican Quinoa
- To make this a Vegan Mexican Quinoa Salad, omit the feta cheese.
- Crumbled Queso Fresco can easily be substituted for the feta cheese as well.
- Instant Pot Quinoa makes this salad super easy to throw together.
- Corn and avocados are also a great addition this Mexican Quinoa salad. You can add in up to 2 cups fresh corn kernels or defrosted frozen corn kernels. Add diced avocados right before serving so they don’t turn brown.
- I used a mixed variety of quinoa, but red, white or black quinoa all work perfectly well in this Mexican Quinoa Salad.
- Instead of black beans, you could use kidney beans or pinto beans. I like to use my instant pot black beans, but canned beans work as well. Just be sure to rinse and drain well.
- Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes are best in this Mexican Salad, but you can also use seeded roma or vine-ripened diced tomatoes. In a pinch, you could also mix in 1 cup salsa into this Mexican Quinoa.
- If you don’t like cilantro, just omit it from the Mexican Quinoa salad. The lime juice and seasonings will still be enough flavor for this dish.
Notes on Mexican Quinoa
- This salad lasts 4-5 days in the fridge and can easily be prepped with leftover quinoa or black beans.
- It is a great tip to add the lime dressing to the quinoa salad right after it is done cooking to let the quinoa absorb the flavors of the dressing. Then you want the quinoa to cool to room temperature BEFORE adding the remaining ingredients–this keeps the cilantro from wilting and the tomatoes and feta fresh.
- If raw onions bother you, soak the onions in water for 60 minutes before adding to the quinoa salad.
- While quinoa can be frozen, I would NOT freeze this salad, as the freshness of this dish would be ruined and the texture compromised.
- This Gluten Free Mexican Quinoa salad is a perfect choice for picnics or outdoor events, as it is is mayo free and even with the feta, can be safely kept at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
More Healthy Mexican Side Dish Recipes
- Mexican Grilled Corn
- Easy Corn Salsa
- Pineapple Mango Salsa
- Instant Pot Rice and Beans
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
Mexican Quinoa Recipe
Mexican Quinoa Salad
- 2 limes zest and juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
For the Quinoa
- Bring 2 cups of stock to a boil with a dash of salt (omit the salt if not using low sodium broth). Add in quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan with lid, and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed water and is tender.
For the Lime Dressing
- Whisk together the zest and juice of 2 limes with the oil and seasonings.
For the Mexican Quinoa Salad
- Once quinoa has cooked add lime dressing and let cool completely. Then mix in the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, feta and beans.