Southwestern Quinoa Salad

August 6th, 2013


This quinoa salad is a lovely dish to serve with any of your Southwestern inspired dinners.  Quinoa is one of those grain-like seeds that have become fashionable because of both its exotic nature and because it is good for you.  Unfortunately its popularity has resulted in a price increase for this native South American staple.  It has always been a mainstay of the diets in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru.  In the last three years the price of quinoa has increased three times.   Because of the demand for this healthy foodstuff, local villagers in South America have to pay more.  Some believe that the people are eating less of it because of the price.  But another theory is that because the farmers are making more money they can afford more imported products like white rice and noodles.  Children, given a choice between a sweetened water and quinoa drink or a coca cola will choose the coke.  But the farmers are happy and eventually the supply and demand will equalize and everyone will be better off from the consumption of this protein rich seed.  At least I hope that is the case.

I found this recipe on the Food 52 website.  Because it has so many of the fresh summertime vegetables in it, I knew that it would be a bowl full of goodness.  I love the way that the quinoa cooks up to almost translucent bubbles.  The corn is charred in a skillet with cumin seeds which brings out the flavors of both in a big way.  Add black beans, tomatoes and scallions and a lime and orange vinaigrette and you have a nutritious and delicious salad.


  • 1 1/2cups quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (or two ears of corn, with the kernels sliced off)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2cups black beans, cooked (or use canned beans rinsed and drained)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled (I omitted this because I didn’t have it)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (the whites and the greens)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Bring three cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. While it warms, rinse the quinoa well under cold water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes — the quinoa should still have a slight bite. (You want it well before mushy.) Then drain it well and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok on high, without adding oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the corn, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are singed. It should take at least five minutes, possibly as much as ten. When they are almost done, add the cumin seeds to the skillet and toast briefly. Then add both to the large salad bowl.
  3. To the same salad bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, the cooked beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned), the feta, the sliced green onions, and the smoked paprika.
  4. Roast the poblano peppers until blackened. (I use the open flame on the stove.) Let cool, then peel, seed, and chop roughly. Add these to the bowl too.
  5. Toss the salad together and add salt to taste. Then whisk together the oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Toss the salad with the dressing. Taste. You may want more oil or more lime juice. Adjust as desired. Taste again. Serve.

Printable recipe

13 responses to “Southwestern Quinoa Salad”

  1. Sam@MyCarolinaKitchen says:

    What a gorgeous salad and full of flavor. I remember when quinoa was difficult to find. When I couldn’t locate it on the shelf, I would ask about it, trying my best to pronounce it correctly, only to receive the same answer over and over again – “never heard of it.”

  2. Penny @ From Harvest To Table says:

    That sounds wonderful. I bought some quinoa the other day and now have a great recipe to try! Thanks Penny!

  3. Mary Sullivan says:

    This is a definite for me – love quinoa and different types of Summer salads. I have both plain quinoa and Organic Tricolor quinoa on my shelf already – bought fresh corn last evening but will have to pick up some other ingredients.
    Do you think goat cheese would work in place of the Feta? I have a lot of that to use up?

    Thanks Penny X

  4. Pam Thurow says:

    Penny, it looks and sounds delicious. I have quinoa in the cabinet and have been wondering how to cook it. Thanks!

  5. seinejudeet says:

    Hi Penny:) I just saw your comment on my friend Ken’s blog (Living the Life in Saint-Aignan) about reading PARIS, by Rutherfurd– I just started reading it (at the strong suggestion of Nadege, one of the other regular commenters on Ken’s blog), but I’m having trouble getting interested in it (even though I’m a HUGE French history nut). How far into the book did it take you to get interested?

    I’m glad I stopped by your lovely blog, too, by the way! Great looking, and good recipes!

    • Penny Klett says:

      Judy, I tried to send you an email but so far no luck. All I can say about PARIS is that you need to stay with it for a few chapters. It is somewhat confusing at the beginning but once you learn the main characters it is a saga of epic proportions. I always had to refer to the family tree at the beginning for a while. It is worth the first confusion. It all becomes clear and the history of France is totally amazing. I loved it.

  6. seinejudeet says:

    Thanks, Penny! I just happened to pop back to see if you had read my comment, so I’ve seen your response. Thanks — Nadege said the same thing. So, I’m trying to push myself to keep reading until it catches me, because I go back to work Thursday (I’m a teacher), and it’ll be hard for me to pick up the book again unless it’s realllllllly grabbed hold of me!

  7. Rosemary Wolbert says:

    This sounds just great. I’ve become a big fan of poblano peppers, as well as quinoa. (Farro, too.) I love the citrus dressing. Just one great salad. (Doesn’t even need the feta!)

  8. K. Wright says:

    Outside of this dish being something I know we would love, I’m so sad to hear about the result of its popularity. I hope everything equalizes because that often isn’t the case. I usually have several types of quinoa in the pantry — it’s fund to experiment with the red and the black varieties. I think either would be perfect for this.

  9. Velva-Tomatoes on the Vine says:

    That is a beautiful summer salad with quinoa.

  10. OnePerfectBite says:

    What a fantastic salad,Penny. Thanks for sharing it. Have a wonderful day.Blessings…Mary.

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