Simple Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing is loaded with fiber, protein and big on flavor. A healthy vegan and gluten-free lunch or dinner option that won’t disappoint.
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Summer’s imminent approach (and the appearance of TONS of fresh produce) has got me kinda obsessed with plant-based recipes. The issue.. Joe and the boys are struggling to get on my “eat all the veggies” train?. They’ll eat the vegetables, but my guys.. they want want meat.
My family, we need options.
This Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing has ALL KINDS of options for all types of eaters. Let’s break em down a bit:
Plant Eater: Serve it as is. The black beans and quinoa ensure that you are getting plenty of protein while the veggies have got the nutrient side of things covered.
Everybody Else: Follow the recipe as written, but add in some shredded “southwestern chicken at the end.” (Make sure to pull out some for the non-meat eaters (if you’ve got any) before adding the meat.
**To make chicken, pat dry 2 chicken breasts, rub on a little olive oil, sprinkle with taco seasoning and then bake chicken breasts in the oven for 30-35 minutes (or until no longer pink in the center). Remove chicken from oven and use to forks to shred. That’s it! Second option (because I’m all about free-choice), serve this quinoa salad as a side dish. It pairs perfectly with burgers, chicken and definitely anything Mexicanesque!
The secret to this recipe is the homemade roasted red pepper dressing. You guys, So. Good. It’s simple to make, requiring just 9 ingredients and 5 minutes prep. It’s sweet and tangy and doesn’t have to be confined to this quinoa salad. It’s a perfect topper for roasted veggies, salads and any type of grain. I like to double the recipe and keep an extra supply to drizzle on everything and anything. It’s just that good.
The salad isn’t fussy. Don’t like black beans, use pinto. Not crazy about quinoa, brown rice would work as well. The veggies used are just a suggestion. You can definitely make substitutions based on what you have available in your refrigerator.
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: The vegetables can be chopped, the dressing made, and the quinoa can be cooked. All components can be prepped 1-2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Make Ahead: Of course! That’s why it’s one of my go to recipes for cook outs, picnics and family get togethers. It actually tastes better and more flavorful when allowed to hang out in the fridge for a bit. Simply follow recipe directions and then cover with plastic wrap. Salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Since the veggies in this salad are fresh not cooked, I wouldn’t recommend freezing the whole salad. However, you can freeze prepared quinoa. Simply follow recipe directions and store in an airtight ziplock bag in the freezer. Quinoa will keep up to 3 months.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1½ TBS taco seasoning
- 1 red pepper, diced
- ½ english cucumber, diced
- 1 cup prepared corn (fresh or frozen)
- ½ can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- 1 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers
- ¼ cup of grape seed oil (you can sub olive oil)
- 3 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1-2 tsp of honey (depending on desired sweetness)
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, for serving
- QUINOA: Add quinoa and vegetable broth to a medium pot. Bring to a boil (medium-high heat) and then reduce to a simmer and allow quinoa to cook until water has completely absorbed (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in taco seasoning. Set aside to cool.
- RED PEPPER DRESSING: To the bowl of a food processor or blender, add red peppers, oil, vinegar, garlic cloves, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and honey. Pulse/blend on high until dressing is smooth.
- ASSSEMBLY: In a large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, red pepper, cucumber, corn, black beans, green onions, and roasted red pepper dressing. Stir to combine. Top with cilantro. Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Quinoa can be purchased in the freezer aisle, pre-cooked. It will not be as flavorful as if you prepare it according to recipe directions, but it will suffice in a pinch?. Prepare quinoa according to package directions (boil or microwave) and then stir in taco seasoning. Follow the remaining recipe instructions as written.
- Fresh corn obviously tastes best, but with so many other ingredients in this recipe I wouldn’t stress about using frozen.
- Since all vegetables vary a bit in size you will need to pour a little dressing, stir, taste, repeat. You don’t want to overwhelm the salad with too much dressing!
- There is a difference between smoked paprika and sweet paprika. Make sure that you purchase smoked.
- Grape Seed oil has a milder flavor than olive oil, but don’t go out and buy it just for this recipe. Olive oil will work fine.
- Want to make a meal from this salad? It is an awesome filler for stuffed peppers! Just half a pepper, clean it out, stuff it and bake it at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until the pepper is tender. I like to top it with guacamole, red onion, cilantro and salsa. It makes a perfect grab and go lunch!
Looking for more healthy whole-food recipes? Check out Simply Sissom on Pinterest. If you like it, follow! New pins are added daily from my favorite bloggers from around the web!
Other Picnic Worthy Salads You Might Like:
FREE: GRAB N" GO BREAKFAST EBOOK
10 Make-Ahead,Whole Food Breakfast Recipes to help mornings go a little smoother and maybe even get you a little bit of extra sleep!