Fresh Mex Quinoa Salad

Fresh Mex Quinoa SaladMy friend Daisy is an amazing cook.  She introduced me to quinoa and brought a version of this salad to work for me for lunch.  What a great friend, huh?  Needless to say, I fell in love with this salad.  It’s light and fresh, but the quinoa makes it stick around so you’re not hungry too soon afterwards, which Mike and I both appreciate when we’re working long days.  I usually cook the quinoa in chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re going vegetarian) so that the quinoa soaks up even more flavor while it’s cooking, but it’s not completely necessary if you don’t have it on hand.

I love the fresh vegetables in this salad and the Mexican flavors that come from the pico de gallo, cilantro, black beans and avocado.  To me, this says, “Here comes summer!”  And yes, while the high today was only 32 degrees here in Ann Arbor, I’ve decided I’m going to will it to be spring with my cooking.  šŸ™‚  My poor son Matthew is very confused.  A week ago (last Thursday, March 20) his teacher told him that it was the first day of spring.  Today he’s looking around outside while the wind is blowing and snow flurries are swirling through the air.  He’s wearing snow pants, a beanie, gloves and a snow jacket, and he raises his eyebrows with a tilt of the head and asks for the third time this week, “It’s spring, Mom?  Really?  It’s not still winter?”  Honestly, how am I supposed to answer that?  I sighed and replied, “Well, it is spring, honey.  It’s just that in Michigan it doesn’t feel like spring.  I guess it’s just getting warmer everywhere else.”  Do I sound terribly negative?  I feel like Julia Roberts in The Mexican when she says, “I need sunshine to grow.”  Except my sunshine needs to actually produce heat rather than being completely deceiving.  Enough of the weather rant, back to food…

Fresh Mex Quinoa Salad 2

This “salad” can be eaten warm or cold.  I’ve pulled it right out of the fridge to eat it or I’ve warmed it up and sprinkled some shredded cheese on it for my kiddos for a quick lunch.  This recipe makes enough for leftovers so we tend to have it a few times before it’s gone.  My kids’ favorite way to eat this is with a large pile of tortilla chips beside the bowl so that they can scoop up the salad on their chip and take a big crunchy bite!

Fresh Mex Quinoa Salad TitleIngredientsFresh Mex Quinoa Salad 3

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 can chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 jalapeƱo, seeds and ribbs removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 5 roma tomatoes
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 1 bunch cilantro, divided
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package frozen corn, thawed & heated
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Tortilla chips or tostada shells


  1. Combine quinoa and chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re going for vegetarian) in a medium pan.  Bring to boil and stir.  Cover and turn down heat so it’s simmering and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove from heat and remain covered for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Combine jalapeƱo & garlic in a food processor and chop until fine.
  3. Add onion, half the cilantro, bell pepper, and tomatoes.  Pulse a couple times.  You want the vegetables chopped, but still identifiable.  You don’t want soup, you want pico de gallo.  If you prefer you can always chop all the veggies by hand yielding larger piece and less runny pico.  For this recipe, it works because the quinoa retains the extra juice.  Try the pico and add salt to taste.
  4. Combine pico de gallo, quinoa, corn and black beans in a large bowl and mix well.
  5. Serve topped with avocado slices and cilantro.  For a salty crunch, serve tostada shells or tortilla chips alongside the salad.

Adapted from Delights by Daisy 

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