Mexican Quinoa Salad

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty wary about trying Quinoa for a very long time. Those little granules… how could those possibly turn into anything worth eating?! Seriously??! Well, it just so happens that they’re edible. Quite edible, in fact. You just have to know how to prepare those little granules so that they’re worthy of eating. Adding a bunch of other good stuff in with them is helpful too. I put together a little Mexican Quinoa Salad for you.

I added good stuff like cherry tomatoes, fresh corn and cilantro. There’s a little lime in there too and a light dressing. Easy.

This is a fancy-schmancy tricolor quinoa from Trader Joe’s.  Otherwise, it’s just one color.  Find it in the same section of your market where you’d find rice.

Some schooling for you… Quinoa (properly pronounced as “Keen-Wah”) is a type of whole grain/seed. It cooks up quicker than other whole grains (just 10 to 15 minutes) and it’s naturally vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and cholesterol free. Quinoa has the highest protein content of any other grain, and it contains all 8 amino acids (so it’s good for ya!) It’s prepared just as rice is prepared with one part quinoa to two parts water. It’s important to rinse quinoa well before cooking it since it’s coated with a naturally occurring plant chemical that can cause a bitter taste. It’s super fine though, so you’ll need a fine mesh strainer to use for rinsing.

Prepare your quinoa in a little saucepan, and in 10 minutes it’s ready… add your veggies and herbs and a simple dressing and big bang bongo you’ve got yourself a salad- served warm or lukewarm or cold.  Or you could be totally brave and just hit the Farmer’s Market, grabbing whatever sounds good to you and add it to quinoa.  It’s all good.

Are you a fan of quinoa already?  Have you yet to try this little grain?  Have I turned you on to the idea of trying it?  Hope so!

Horizons need to be broadened, salads need to be shaken up a bit, quinoa needs to be eaten, and… do as Lennon said and Give Peace a Chance.  (Though the first time I wrote that it came out as, “Give Peaches a Chance.”  Hmmm.  Ignore me and my crazy thoughts here.  Just eat some quinoa.

Print Print Recipe

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 12 min

This is a simply, fresh flavored quinoa salad, served warm or cold.


1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well through a fine strainer/sieve
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 to 1 cup fresh corn (sliced off the cob, raw)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
lime wedges
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Cool slightly.

3. In a medium bowl, toss the quinoa with the tomatoes, corn and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss to coat everything. Squeeze lime on top, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

4. Serve with lime wedges, for individual squeezing.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1/4th of the salad
Calories per serving: 258
Fat per serving: 8.4g
Saturated Fat per serving: .8g
Sugar per serving: 4.3g
Fiber per serving: 4.4g
Protein per serving: 7.6g
Cholesterol per serving: 0mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 40.1g

WW POINTS per serving:
Points Plus Program: 7 Old Points Program: 5


Leave a Comment

59 Responses to “Mexican Quinoa Salad”

  1. 1

    Katrina — March 26, 2012 @ 4:00 AM

    This looks so colourful and yummy! Awesome idea!

  2. 2

    Cookbook Queen — March 26, 2012 @ 5:15 AM

    I have been meaning to try quinoa too…but it just looks so odd, I’ve been a little skeered. This looks doable for sure, though!!

  3. 3

    Melissa @ Treats With a Twist — March 26, 2012 @ 6:03 AM

    I LOVE quinoa! I just made a huge batch of it last night to store in the fridge for my meals for this week. I love making different dressings for it and finding little things to mix in (almonds and cranberries or mexican salsa!). Great pick for today!

  4. 4

    Renee — March 26, 2012 @ 6:05 AM

    you should try this recipe:
    We made it last night w grilled salmon and veggies. the only difference we did was add sauteed peppers and sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh.

  5. 5

    kelley — March 26, 2012 @ 6:38 AM

    I am already on the quinoa bandwagon! This salad is all of my favorite flavors and it would make the a great and easy lunch to prepare early in the week and have at hand on those busy days!

  6. 6

    Bev Weidner — March 26, 2012 @ 7:01 AM

    Quinoa rules my entire life. And this salad is my new boyfriend. YUM!

  7. 7

    Janelle — March 26, 2012 @ 7:06 AM

    I’ve also been wary about trying quinoa. It seems to be a fad, and I’m hesitant to believe much about these so-called “super foods.” But I think I’ll have to try this maybe. Green onions and red peppers must be added.

  8. 8

    Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids — March 26, 2012 @ 7:18 AM

    I just tried quinoa for the first time this past weekend. I made lemon thyme mushroom chicken, and spooned the sauce over the quinoa. It was delicious. And, this salad looks amazing. I am always looking for healthy, easy lunch recipes, and this one is perfect.

  9. 9

    Jill — March 26, 2012 @ 7:21 AM

    I still haven’t tried quinoa yet, but have been meaning too. This salad looks great, and I can’t wait to make it! :)

  10. 10

    Cassie — March 26, 2012 @ 7:23 AM

    I love quinoa, we eat it at least once per week. Definitely trying it, these flavors are at the top of my list!

  11. 11

    Averie @ Averie Cooks — March 26, 2012 @ 8:34 AM

    The salad looks gorgeous and I love overhead shot on the wooden board with the corn and other veggies. So pretty!

  12. 12

    Jenny Flake — March 26, 2012 @ 9:50 AM

    Mmm, I love quinoa. I need to make it more often, your salad looks perfect!

  13. 13

    Nicole {Sweet Peony} — March 26, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

    This sounds like a great way to eat quinoa! I’ve only tried it plain, which I like, but I know I would looove this! Plus, all of the colors are great! :)

  14. 14

    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — March 26, 2012 @ 10:28 AM

    I eat quinoa probably 5 out of 7 nights a week-it’s so versatile! I was apprehensive to try it at first too but now I honestly can’t imagine my menu planning without it. I’m glad you liked it, this recipe looks awesome!

  15. 15

    Miss — March 26, 2012 @ 11:28 AM

    I love quinoa! I’ve made it with lemon and fresh basil and I used it to make salmon patties, both really good. I’m giving your salad a go soon, love the flavors!

  16. 16

    TarotByArwen — March 26, 2012 @ 11:36 AM

    My niece makes a stuffed pepper that uses quinoa that is so tasty!

  17. 17

    Elena @3greenonions — March 26, 2012 @ 12:06 PM

    i was first introduced to quinoa when my I started searching for GF grains/seeds for my (then) 6 month old. Its quite expensive in our neck of the woods but I did use to raid his stash and add it to other grain salads…its not much by itself but I agree with you, its does shine when in the right company:) I love this idea of a mex quinoa salad, will be trying!

  18. 18

    ErinCroutons — March 26, 2012 @ 12:50 PM

    I’ve been wishing that my local supermarket would start carrying this little gem, but alas I must go to the farmer’s market for it. Worth it though!

  19. 19

    Dana B — March 26, 2012 @ 4:00 PM

    Excellent! Thx for the recipe! I’ve been wanting to incorporate more quinoa. I recently started eating a corn/quinoa pasta which I love and it really got me hooked :)

  20. 20

    shelly (cookies and cups) — March 27, 2012 @ 5:29 AM

    I love quinoa. This is the perfect weeknight dinner!

  21. 21

    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — March 27, 2012 @ 6:57 AM

    Fabolous dish! I have quinoa in the cupboard and I just have tried it yet. I know I’like it with your recipe!! Yum!

  22. 22

    Erin — March 27, 2012 @ 7:49 AM

    I love quinoa! I usually mix it in with a greek salad or tabuleh type salad. I also cook mine in the rice cooker so super quick and easy! Sometimes i mix some chia seeds in there too with the salad. It’s also very good as a breakfast food. I’ve made quinoa granola with quinoa flakes and also used it as a noodle replacement in casseroles! love love love it!

  23. 23

    joy — March 27, 2012 @ 7:50 AM

    I have a bag of this right on my counter!

  24. 24

    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — March 27, 2012 @ 8:39 AM

    This salad looks delicious! i have a bag of Quinoa, but am not really sure what to do with it! I am going to have to try this for sure!

  25. 25

    heather — March 27, 2012 @ 8:46 AM

    This looks so gorgeous and fresh-tasting!

  26. 26

    Julia — March 27, 2012 @ 8:51 AM

    Since my husband FINALLY likes quinoa, I think I’ll make a big batch of this tonight and have leftovers all week, SCORE!

  27. 27

    Heather @ Sixty Minute Housewife — March 27, 2012 @ 9:11 AM

    I love quinoa! My fave way to serve it is drizzled with a flavored olive oil and a bunch of veggies and herbs. Yours looks delish! And I never knew about rinising it before cooking – great tip!

  28. 28

    Tara — March 27, 2012 @ 9:25 AM

    This sounds wonderful! I think I will add some small dices of jicama!

  29. 29

    Gina @ Skinnytaste — March 27, 2012 @ 9:31 AM

    Yummy! Love the Mexican touch you added to the quinoa and those colors are vibrant and exquisite!

  30. 30

    Liz @ Virtually Homemade — March 27, 2012 @ 9:36 AM

    I love quinoa. I think it tastes even better to me since it’s so nutrient dense. Great idea for dressing it up!

  31. 31

    vanessa — March 27, 2012 @ 10:01 AM

    i swear i love you even more and more with each new recipe. lol. you are the best. thanks for this gorgeous recipe. my mom will love this too.

  32. 32

    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — March 27, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

    I loveeeee quinoa! It’s so versatile. This salad is perfect for lunch one day!!

  33. 33

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — March 27, 2012 @ 11:53 AM

    This looks delicious! Have you tried red quinoa? It has a little more texture, kind of like a small tender wild rice. Love it!

  34. 34

    Noble Pig - Cathy — March 27, 2012 @ 12:00 PM

    Love the tricolor..have not seen those. I have done quinoa twice in the past week. But I love the mex flare!

  35. 35

    Cynthia — March 27, 2012 @ 1:01 PM

    Quinoa is 60% starch. Not an ideal food for those watching their carbs. For the taste or flavor it is not worth the carbohydrates.

  36. 36

    Mary — March 27, 2012 @ 3:26 PM

    Like you, I have been wary of trying quinoa, but your recipe has convinced me to give it a try. This salad is so very appealing!!!!! Thanks for a new eating experience!!!!!

  37. 37

    Lori Lange — March 27, 2012 @ 8:30 PM

    I guess if you are watching your carbs, this is something to consider.

  38. 38

    christo — March 28, 2012 @ 4:56 AM

    the coating that you mention on quinoa that adds the bitter taste is actually a naturally occurring detergent – so definitely rinse it

  39. 39

    Elizabeth — March 28, 2012 @ 6:46 AM

    Quinoa is SO delicious!

  40. 40

    Cookin' Canuck — March 28, 2012 @ 7:53 AM

    Quinoa is a staple in our house and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. This is right up our alley!

  41. 41

    Aroma — March 29, 2012 @ 12:39 AM

    Makes healthy food fun!

  42. 42

    Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are} — March 29, 2012 @ 10:36 AM

    I really like quinoa – I just have to get my family on board. They’re a little put off by all the little “fingernail” looking curley-ques. Mexican is a good starting place though – a “never fail” taste profile for us!!

  43. 43

    Mindful Eater — March 29, 2012 @ 12:45 PM

    I’m just getting into quinoa and can use all the recipes I can find. This sounds delicious!

  44. 44

    Sweetsugarbelle — March 29, 2012 @ 7:11 PM

    I made quinoa yesterday then had no idea what to do with it! Bookmarking this!

  45. 45

    Maureen — April 9, 2012 @ 6:42 PM

    I have loved quinoa since the first time I tried it. We are trying to eat healthier and this is great. I make a big batch of it on Sunday and divide it up into 5 containers. From there, I add in fresh chopped veggies, fruits and or nuts, add a little dressing and “boom” I’ve got my lunches packed for the week! Yours is a great recipe for when I’ve got a craving for Mexican flavors. Green peppers, black olives, feta and a dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano take care of my Middle Eastern cravings. I use quinoa in any salad in place of pasta or rice.

  46. 46

    Louise — April 10, 2012 @ 8:56 PM

    This looks absolutely delicious! I love Quinoa!

  47. 47

    Jan G. — April 14, 2012 @ 11:47 AM

    Use alot of black Quinoa, for some reason I seem to prefer that one. Make chicken salad with it. Get the rotesserie chicken if in a hurry and add yellow and red peppers diced along with green onions. Top it off with diet Ginger salad dressing and in summer some papaya slices. YUM! Makes a great work lunch.

  48. 48

    RecipeGirl's Mom — April 14, 2012 @ 12:30 PM

    This looks good so I’ll have to try it this summer when I’m craving salads again.

  49. 49

    Britt H — April 15, 2012 @ 8:20 PM

    Just thought I’d mention that there are more than 8 amino acids, but there are 8 essential amino acids. Protein from animal meat has all the essential amino acids, but vegetarians must make sure they are eating a good balance of proteins from various sources to get all the amino acids in their diet. I haven’t before heard that quinoa has all the essential AA, but if it does then it’s a nice source of some protein for a non-meat-eater.

  50. 50

    Lori Lange — April 16, 2012 @ 2:05 PM

    good to know!

  51. 51

    Vicki B. in Mountain — April 20, 2012 @ 5:59 AM

    It also makes excellent pancakes and crispy potato things like they sell in the fast food restaurants. Throw in some chicken soup base and some veggies it makes a great side dish, it also makes excellent banana muffins, it is one great seed! I use it all the time

  52. 52

    Traci — June 12, 2012 @ 11:19 AM

    I bought a bag of Organic Quinoa from Costco (pre-rinsed) and went on a mission to find recipes for it. This is the first one i have tried and it was sooo yummy!! My husband really liked it too. Instead of using lime wedges, i just used some lime juice that I already had in the fridge.

  53. 53

    Diana — September 18, 2012 @ 11:58 AM

    the photo of the ingredients looks like there are two garlic cloves? Not listed in ingredients …….

  54. 54

    Lori Lange — September 18, 2012 @ 5:40 PM

    observant, you are! Thank you for pointing that out… just added to the recipe!!

  55. 55

    Amanda — January 6, 2013 @ 8:14 AM

    Sounds so fabulous Lori, I’m always looking for fresh salads using quinoa, I love it!

  56. 56

    Merna HIxson — January 6, 2013 @ 8:37 PM

    I like my quinoa for breakfast with a sprinkle of sliced almonds and a splash of milk; also use it in place of rice when serving stir fry.

  57. 57

    Sharon — January 7, 2013 @ 3:18 PM

    Since it’s winter and I can’t find fresh corn on the cob, could I substitute thawed frozen corn kernels? This sounds great and I’ve got a box of quinoa I’ve been meaning to try. Thanks

  58. 58

    Lori Lange — January 7, 2013 @ 3:45 PM


  59. 59

    Rosana — January 23, 2013 @ 11:39 AM

    I loooooove Quinoa. I usually cook it with carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Just saute all those vegetables in a tbs of olive oil for 5 minutes, next, add the Quinoa and then chix stock. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is gone and serve. Even my kids love it when there is Quinoa for dinner.