Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Avocado Citrus Dressing

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As promised, I tested the Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing from my Buzzfeed Life FB Post on Monday (25 Clean Eating Meals For Vegetarians). I mean, it has many of my food loves all in one bowl.  How could I resist – and why?  Of course I put my own spin on the original recipe, which will surprise no one. This salad is delicious and very satisfying with two great sources of protein in the red quinoa and black beans.  The avocado, in both the salad and in the dressing, adds a healthy fat and helps keep your belly feeling full and happy.  The Avocado Citrus Dressing is divine, just the right balance of creamy, savory and sweet and it’s easy to make spicy if that’s where your tastebuds are headed. Don’t be afraid to toss in a few tortilla chips to enhance the Mexican flavors of this dish.

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I like to use red quinoa in dishes that would normally be filled with ground beef or some other meat protein because it makes such a good substitute in both taste and texture. Quinoa is naturally high in protein and loaded with nutrition but low in fat and calories.  With the addition of black beans, this ‘salad’ becomes a real main course contender.  My meat eaters love it!  Red quinoa has a great consistency and when sauteed with onions, garlic and spices, just like you would with ground beef, it really picks up those savory flavors nicely. In fact, this black bean quinoa mixture is a great base for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or any other dish requiring a Mexican inspired filling.

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The vegetable toppings on this salad are so colorful, making this a dish worthy of company – or that pot luck that you never know what to bring.  It can be served slightly warm or at room temperature, making it a great busy day meal, especially when you have people going in many different directions.  If it were summer and corn was in season, I would use raw or grilled fresh corn kernels.  Since it’s winter, I used defrosted uncooked frozen corn. Each of these colorful veggies adds a whole new wealth of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants which is why we should try to Eat the Rainbow every day.

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Have you ever wondered how restaurants serve orange segments that are bright orange and have no pith?  Don’t peel them. Just cut off the top and then slice around the sides, then cut off the bottom.  Remove any remaining pith and then slice into gorgeous segments.  Yes, you lose a bit of the flesh but the result is so pretty and has no tough skins or bitter pith.  If you don’t care about that, peel and segment. Done!

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TIPS: This salad can be prepared as a layered, tossed or composed salad.  You can also make one large salad or prepare individual salad plates and cater to each of your diner’s tastes.  I combined the black beans with the quinoa mixture so that the beans would also absorb the garlic, onion and spice flavors.  If you want to make a composed or layered salad and want to keep the ingredients separate, you can serve the beans warmed up or room temperature.  I think they are fine plain with their natural salty flavor or you can sprinkle the beans with a bit of the spices and toss to coat.
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Original recipe from Minimalist Baker (link below).

MEXICAN QUINOA BLACK BEAN SALAD
  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)

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DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced  (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
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  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside

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  • Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

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  • Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.

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  • Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside. NOTE:  This quinoa black bean mixture is a great base for tacos or any other Mexican recipe.

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  • While quinoa is cooling, prepare vegetables.

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  • Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.

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  • Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture and top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.

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  • Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

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Drizzle dressing over salad and top with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.cre

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)
DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
  1. Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside
  2. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  3. Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.
  4. Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.
  6. Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture
  7. Top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.
  8. Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
  9. Drizzle orange lime dressing over salad and adorn with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker, a great cooking site worth checking out.  

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

Wheatless Wednesday – Black Bean Quinoa Salad

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Tired of green salad?  This flavor filled quinoa salad with mango and avocado topped with an orange cumin vinaigrette is my new favorite!  I promise you won’t be bored. It’s a little bit spicy from the jalapenos, a little bit sweet from the mango, the black beans add a rich salty flavor and fresh avocado, purple onion, bell pepper and cilantro make it salad worthy.  Yum!

Quinoa is the perfect backdrop for these beautiful flavors.  It also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse, high in protein, low in fat, gluten free and loaded with lovely vitamins and minerals (but you don’t have to tell your family that).  What I didn’t know is that Mango is also a superfood, providing over 20 vitamins and minerals in every delicious bite. ( This puts a whole new light on my recipe for Mango Margaritas!)  Black beans add another protein and nutrient boost and their high fiber content helps keep your tummy full. Then there is the Avocado, which we now know is a good fat that is highly nutritious.   The best part of this salad though, is how great it tastes!  I can’t wait to have it again for lunch…

This is the perfect dish to throw together for an easy dinner or bring to a potluck, especially if you have leftover quinoa on hand (or you make it ahead), then it’s only about ten minutes of chopping, mixing and you’re done!  This salad can be made a day ahead, without the avocado.  Bring to room temperature then gently toss in the avocado, if using, before serving.

TIP:  You can buy mango pre-cut but it’s very easy to do it yourself (and less expensive) if you know the right technique.  How to cut a Mango

VARIATIONS:  If you don’t have, or like, mango, you can substitute orange or nectarine segments (or even canned or frozen corn).  Use a combination of yellow, orange, red and green bell peppers for lots of color.  This recipe is only mildly spicy using one red jalapeno pepper so double the amount of jalapeno peppers and add a bit more cumin if you like it hot.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

Black Bean Quinoa with Cumin Orange Vinaigrette

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad4

1 cup quinoa
1 cup mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red or green jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
 vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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  • Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness and cook according to package instructions; set aside and let cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, black beans, avocado, onion and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • If you aren’t serving immediately, place the avocado pit on top of the salad to keep the avocado from turning brown, or add the avocado right before serving .  Serve at room temperature.

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