Since today is Cinco de Mayo, and Mexican food is one of my favorites, I made a Mexican Quinoa salad for my Mexican fiesta! Quinoa, without a doubt, is one of my favorite foods! So, I paired quinoa with some of my favorite Mexican flavors. And in a matter of minutes, my Mexican quinoa salad was ready to serve.
First, I love quinoa because it cooks in less than 15 minutes. Besides waiting for it to cool, this Mexican quinoa salad recipe is ready to roll in 20 minutes from start to finish. And who doesn't love a quick and easy recipe?
What is the difference between the different colors of quinoa?
Typically, white, red, and black quinoa are readily available at most grocery stores. Even tri-colored quinoa seems to be making an appearance on the grocery shelves as well. Believe it or not, there are 120 known varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council. But what's the difference between the different colors and varieties?
White quinoa, for instance, is the most common quinoa. Tan in color, this quinoa is usually used to replace rice in dishes. Gluten-free and 100% complete protein, quinoa have a nutty flavor and lighter texture. Like rice, white quinoa tastes somewhat neutral, ad most people prefer to cook with white quinoa.
Despite being mistaken as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, when cooked, takes on the shape of couscous.
However, my favorite quinoa by far is red quinoa, which is bold, colorful, and earthy in flavor. I absolutely love the vibrant color in salads and bowls next to vegetables.
On the other hand, black quinoa is much like red quinoa in its texture and bolder flavor. Again, black quinoa is beautiful in a salad or bowl and brings an added pop of color.
Tricolor quinoa, another beautiful and colorful seed, brings a variety of quinoa together in one bag.
What is the secret to perfectly cooked quinoa?
First, as mentioned previously, I always rinse my quinoa in a mesh strainer. Then, you want to make sure to add the quinoa and COLD water to the pan BEFORE you begin cooking. Once the quinoa and cold water are combined in the pan, add a little salt and stir. Next, bring the quinoa and cold water to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to simmer, and cover for 15 minutes.
When the timer hits 15 minutes, remove the covered pan from the burner. And leave it to sit for at least 5 minutes. Then, remove the cover and fluff with a fork.
If you plan to use the quinoa immediately, use it then. If not, wait until it cools completely and add to a covered container for the refrigerator.
Mexican Quinoa Salad Ingredients
Once the quinoa is cooked and cooled, prepare the other ingredients for the Mexican quinoa salad. For this salad, I chose a variety of ingredients.
- Tri-colored Quinoa (or any color quinoa)
- Grilled fresh corn on the cob (or canned or cooed frozen corn cooled)
- Red bell peppers
- Red onions
- Grape tomatoes, or tomatoes of choice
- Pinto beans (or black beans)
Although I prefer pinto beans, black beans are a great substitute. The biggest difference between these beans isn't anything to do with nutritional content but taste.
Black beans are harder than pinto beans, and they have a nuttier flavor and earthier texture. Pinto beans, on the other hand, are heartier and creamier. So, pick which bean you love the most or the one readily available in your pantry.
When considering preparing the corn, I prefer to grill mine after it marinates in lime juice, cumin, and hot sauce. But canned or frozen corn works as well.
Make sure, however, that the frozen corn is cooked and cooled before adding it to the salad. Canned corn also should be drained.
Once I remove the husks from the corn, marinate in a combination of lime juice, hot sauce (of choice), and cumin. Then, allow the flavors to seep into the corn, which takes a few hours or best occurs overnight.
Next, heat the grill to medium-low and grill the corn for 15 minutes, rotating the corn every 5 minutes, with the cover of the grill closed between.
If you don't own a grill, don't despair; boil fresh corn for 5 minutes in a pot of boiling water with a little salt.
Nutritional Benefits of Pinto Beans
According to Healthline, pinto beans are primarily comprised of carbs, fiber, and protein. They also pack an incredible punch of vitamins and minerals.
One cup (171 grams) of pinto beans boiled with salt provides (1Trusted Source):
- Calories: 245
- Carbs: 45 grams
- Fiber: 15 grams
- Protein: 15 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Sodium: 407 mg
- Thiamine: 28% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 20% of the DV
- Magnesium: 21% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
- Potassium: 16% of the DV
As you can see, they boast a good amount of thiamine (vitamin B1), which is an essential vitamin that helps your body convert food into energy.
They also offer numerous other minerals, such as iron and magnesium, and contain small amounts of other B vitamins, zinc, and calcium.
When cooked without salt or other additives, pinto beans are free of cholesterol and low in fat and sodium.
What ingredients are in the dressing?
- Lime juice + zest
- Apple cider vinegar
- Maple syrup or date syrup
- Chili Powder
- Salt to taste
Making the Mexcian Quinoa Salad
When the quinoa and corn are cooled, place the quinoa base of the bowl and add the other ingredients. Then, stir the ingredients together, careful with the tomatoes so as not to crush them.
Next, combine the dressing ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl, and pour over the top of the salad. Stir again, and place in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill.
Because the avocado may brown if added earlier, I added thin slices on each plate before serving. Chopped avocado also works well as an ingredient, but don't add it until right before serving.
If you love quinoa and Mexican flavors, give Mexican Quinoa salad a try. It's a great entree salad or a side dish to serve with your favorite Mexican entrees.
If you want to include more salads with your Mexican dinners, try these salads.
- Mexican Salad
- Mexican Pasta Salad
- Salad with Corn
- Chickpea Quinoa Salad - Southwest Style!
- Southwest Salad
- Charred Corn Salad
- Mexican Corn Salad
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂