There aren’t many foods I dislike, but I don’t really like quinoa. There, I said it. I know quinoa is trendy and good for you, but I just have never liked the taste of it. Until now. Recently, I was at a food blogger event, and one of the lunch selections was this amazing Southwest salad with black beans, quinoa, queso fresco, and fresh vegetables. With this recipe, I’ve found a way to eat quinoa that I really love.
This salad is substantial, super tasty, and vegetarian. I serve it with a cilantro lime vinaigrette, and even kids will eat it. I love how healthy it is, and how easy it is to make.Start this salad by cooking 1 cup quinoa according to package directions. I cook quinoa in my Aroma rice cooker, but you can easily cook it on the stovetop. I recommend rinsing the quinoa before cooking.
You may not know what quinoa is, even if you have eaten it. The part of the quinoa plant that we eat is the seed, technically not a grain. Quinoa is a health food superstar because it is one of the few plants that provide complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Most quinoa is grown in Bolivia or Peru.
While the quinoa is cooking, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain and rinse the black beans. Wash and dry the salad greens, cut up the rest of the veggies, crumble the cheese, and make the vinaigrette. I like to put all the salad ingredients in separate bowls so each person can build their own salad. This makes the meal more interesting, and kids will be more likely to eat the salad if they can customize it.
Instead of Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, you can also serve this salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Vinaigrette. They’re both yummy, and I can’t decide which I like better. Have fun making and serving this hearty salad that’s perfect for summer!
Southwest Salad with Quinoa and Black Beans
For the salad:
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- 8 cups salad greens including romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce or spinach
- 4 small tomatoes diced
- ½ large cucumber peeled and diced
- 4-5 radishes thinly sliced
- 1-2 cups cilantro leaves washed and dried
- 1 cup diced bell pepper
- ¾ cup queso fresco cheese crumbles
- 1 avocado diced (optional)
For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1 large lime
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove cut in half, or substitute ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or agave syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup cilantro leaves
To make the salad:
- Rinse 1 cup quinoa and cook according to package directions to yield 2 cups cooked quinoa.
- While the quinoa is cooking, soak the thinly sliced red onion in cold water for about 30 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps reduce the sharpness of raw onion.
- Prepare all the salad ingredients ant place in separate bowls.
- Have each person build an individual salad.
- Alternatively, make a layered salad by mixing 2 cups cooked quinoa with the black beans in a large mixing bowl. Place salad greens in the bottom of a wide salad bowl, then add the quinoa mixture, then layer on the chopped vegetables and cilantro.
To make the vinaigrette:
- Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and process until well combined, about 60 seconds.
Weight Watchers SmartPoints for salad: 8
Weight Watchers SmartPoints for dressing: 4 points per tablespoon