Southwest quinoa salad

If you live in St. Louis, it’s worth checking out the Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden: a summertime concert series within the rose gardens where picnics are encouraged. 

A fun event like this calls for a fun, packable menu like spicy black bean and corn patties with chipotle barbeque sauce, strawberry-rhubarb crumble bars, and southwest quinoa salad. This southwest quinoa salad is incredibly quick and easy to assemble, and the fresh lime juice and cilantro give intense fresh flavor that can’t be beat. This is a dish that is fantastic for packing and taking to-go since it can be served at room temperature, so it also makes a great portable lunch dish. (Also, check back next week for the black bean patties and barbeque sauce recipes.)

Quinoa is an awesome grain (although it’s actually a seed) to include in your diet. It is rich in vitamins and minerals including manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. It provides 8 grams of protein per cooked cup, making it a valuable addition to many vegetarian and vegan diets. It is also high in fiber, which helps keep your belly feeling full and satisfied.

All the quinoa recipes I reference recommend using a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid, but I think my quinoa turns out a bit too soft when I abide by that. I find that bit less liquid is better: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/3 cups liquid works well for me.

Yum. Really.

Southwest quinoa salad
Serves 4
Adapted from Center Cut Cook

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned corn, drained, or cooked kernels cut from 2 ears of corn
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer to remove any bitter flavors. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the garlic, stirring to cook for 1 minute. Add the drained quinoa and toast in the garlic and olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit 5 additional minutes with the lid on. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and allow it to cool completely.
  3. Add the black beans, corn, bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro to the bowl with the cooked quinoa
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss to thoroughly combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving – the longer it sits, the better it tastes! Serve cold or at room temperature.


  1. August 4, 2014 / 7:57 pm

    Love the idea of adding corn and black beans to this quinoa salad! What a great high protein meal!