Southwestern quinoa salad

Over the last year, a healthy grain called “quinoa” has been all over the foodie blogosphere.

(See, I notice things.)

Apparently, it’s the best thing since kale chips.

Quinoa, pronounced “KEEN-wah,” looks like tiny brown balls of health.

I was skeptical, to say the least.

It took me the better part of 2011 to even come around to consider trying it.

Actually, what pushed me over was my old UNC college roommate JoAnna’s blog, The Nutrionista.

In spite of myself, I was drawn to her recipe for southwestern quinoa salad (with cumin-lime dressing).

I’ll be honest, part of this was due to the fact that I used to eat out all the time in college with this girl.

She has *good* taste in food.

So I threw caution to the wind, went to Ward’s and bought a little sack of quinoa.

Cooking on the stove (the process is a lot like cooking white rice), the smell was … interesting.

It was kind of like a nutty pot of peas.


And yet, once it was done, and I took a bite, I was honest-to-god surprised.

It tasted good!

And once you add all of the bright veggies and lime dressing, it turns into something altogether amazing.

After tasting, Dave even said, “this is pretty damn good.”

(That’s an A+ in husband speak.)

So, do me a favor and try this big bowl of health food.

Trust me, if I liked it, I’m sure you will, too.


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. of cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 pint-sized package of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • The juice from 2 limes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste

*Note: The chicken is optional. This could totally serve as a vegetarian entrée or a side dish.


  • I used shredded chicken from a chicken I roasted earlier in the week, but any preparation would do, whether you use a rotisserie chicken, bake some breasts, sautee chicken or grill it on the George Foreman.
  • Combine the quinoa and water in a small covered sauce pan and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the grains are light and fluffy, or about 20 minutes.  Uncover and let cool.
  • While the chicken and quinoa are cooking, chop your avocados, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and bell pepper and combine in a large bowl.
  • Add the corn, beans and quinoa and toss evenly.
  • Next, prepare your cumin-lime dressing: whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and salt.
  • If using, add the shredded chicken to the salad and pour the dressing on top, stirring well so that the dressing coats the salad evenly.
  • Serve warm, or let it cool in the refrigerator to serve later.

[Source: The Nutrionista.]

8 Responses to Southwestern quinoa salad

  1. April says:

    I love quinoa and have been eating it for years! It’s very versatile. Your salad looks delicious. :)

  2. thewhitedish says:

    This sounds good! I’ve been looking for a tasty quinoa dish to sample on my husband and I like the southwestern versions of quinoa salads I am seeing!

  3. Karen says:

    I just had a black quinoa salad recently…will be trying yours soon.

  4. thewhitedish says:

    Thinking of making this as a quick lunch to eat at work next time, is it better eaten warm or cold?

    • Hi there! When made immediately with just-cooked quinoa and chicken, it is slightly warm, although the veggies and dressing cool it off. A moderate warm, if you will. It’s good this way. The next day, of course, after being in the fridge, it’s cold, which is tasty, too. Honestly, I think either is good, but I definitely eat it cold straight from the tupperware for leftovers. Like soup, it gets better the next day as the flavors meld together. :) Let me know how you like it!

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