If you're looking for a new way to enjoy quinoa, look no further than this Southwest quinoa bowl made with healthy ingredients! Filled with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocado, this salad is packed with southwest flavors and protein.
This nutritious vegan salad is great for the main meal, meal prep, or to bring to a potluck or picnic. Massage kale leaves together with avocado and lemon, and top with black beans, corn, red onion, red bell pepper, and tomato for a delicious fresh salad!
Less than thirty minutes are all that stand between you and this southwest quinoa salad recipe! This Southwest Quinoa Bowl is healthy, delicious, and easy to make for a light lunch or main dish with plenty of protein.
Another salad that makes a great main course is Southwest Salad with Cilantro Jalapeno Cashew Dressing; you can use the dressing in that recipe to jazz up this salad even more!
This salad also makes the perfect side dish! Serve it as a side to these Lentil Black Bean Burgers.
What is quinoa?
A tiny ancient gluten-free grain with a fluffy texture and slightly nutty flavor, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is known as a superfood these days.
It was the Incan civilization's staple food. Quinoa is a good source of plant protein and iron, lysine, magnesium, and potassium.
There are many varieties; red quinoa, white quinoa, and black quinoa are the most common. For this recipe, I've selected a mixture of all three, called tri-color quinoa.
Here are the simple ingredients you'll need to make this easy quinoa salad recipe:
- Tajin Classic Seasoning (optional, highly recommended) - a mildly spicy Mexican seasoning made of dried lime, sea salt, and dried ground chili pepper. It gives this salad a little extra kick.
- Sweet Corn - you can use fresh corn or frozen corn. Thaw frozen corn quickly under running water in a colander. Roasted corn is really good too!
- Quinoa - I used tricolor quinoa; you can any type you like.
- Avocado - chopped, for massaging the kale instead of oil. It works wonderfully with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Try it, it makes the simplest dressing ever!
- Kale - for this salad I used curly kale; use whichever type of kale you prefer.
- Hemp hearts - these add nice texture and flavor as well as nutrients.
How to make this Southwest Quinoa Bowl
It's easy to make this colorful salad with fresh ingredients. If you don't have cooked quinoa on hand, you'll need to:
- Cook the quinoa.
- Massage the kale with lemon and avocado to make the dressing. Let it rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Chop the vegetables.
- Assemble the salad and top with seasoning and fresh herbs.
Cook the quinoa
- Rinse the quinoa before cooking it on the stovetop, unless you have some that you previously prepared. It is essential to rinse the naturally occurring protective coating called saponin off the quinoa; otherwise, it will taste bitter. The purpose of the saponin is to keep the seed safe from birds and insects. It's worth the extra effort to rinse. I once forgot, and I won't do it again, it makes that much difference.
- Place the quinoa in a small bowl filled with water. Swish the quinoa with your fingertips and pour the water out, keeping a small fine sieve to catch any quinoa that falls out. Then put the quinoa in a medium pot with vegetable broth, cover, and a boil.
- Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to low, keep the lid on, and cook for 15 minutes. Once done cooking, let the quinoa sit for an additional five minutes off the heat and gently remove the lid and fluff. A wooden fork works well for this.
Massage the kale
- While the quinoa is cooking, massage the kale with avocado, lemon juice, and sea salt in a large bowl. Rubbing the kale between your fingers for a couple of minutes breaks down the cell walls and gives it a softer, more pleasant texture. It only takes a couple of minutes!
- Let it rest while you chop the vegetables.
Chop the vegetables
- Chop the rest of the vegetables and keep them separate. Rinse and drain the black beans if using canned beans. Thaw frozen corn by rinsing it in a colander.
Assemble the salad
Place quinoa, massaged kale, black beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, and red onion in bowls. Top with Tajin seasoning, cilantro, and hemp hearts! Enjoy!
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- Small saucepan or medium pot for cooking the quinoa
- Can opener if using canned beans
How to serve
Layer all the ingredients in a large individual bowl for each person. A bowl works best rather than a plate to keep everything together.
Top with Tajin seasoning if you like. This salad is delicious with this chili and lime seasoning on top!
This salad would be excellent with baked sweet potatoes or tortilla chips on the side.
Here are some substitutions you can make:
- Vegetable broth - use water instead, or vegan un-chicken broth.
- Kale - use spinach or lettuce, or beet greens
- Lemon juice - you can use fresh lime juice
- Black beans - try chickpeas, cannellini beans, or lentils
- Corn - try peas
- Orange bell pepper or red bell pepper - try yellow or green bell pepper
- Red onion - try white onion or sliced green onions
- Fresh cilantro - try fresh parsley
- Roma tomato - use cherry tomatoes
- Hemp hearts - use pumpkin seeds instead, or sunflower seeds
- Sea salt - or kosher salt
- Tajin seasoning - add sea salt, red pepper flakes, and lime zest instead.
Feel free to improvise with the fresh vegetables you have available.
- Other grains, such as amaranth, farro, brown rice, wild rice, teff, or sorghum.
- Add artichoke hearts or hearts of palm or chopped beets or chopped red cabbage.
- Tajin Seasoning - try smoked paprika or chili powder or cumin.
Rinse the quinoa before cooking it!
Use fresh ingredients to make the best vegan southwest quinoa bowls!
For meal prep, prepare the ingredients in individual meal prep containers. Start with the avocado and kale mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients.
If you make this Southwest Quinoa Bowl, let me know what you think by ★★★★★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes!
Southwest Quinoa Bowl
- 1 cup tri-color quinoa rinsed, or regular quinoa, rinsed
- 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups kale stemmed
- 1 avocado roughly chopped
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1 large Roma tomato chopped
- ½ orange bell pepper chopped or red bell pepper
- ¼ red onion chopped
- Tajin Seasoning optional
- Cilantro optional
- 1 tablespoon hemp hearts optional, for topping
- Rinse the quinoa well. Boil 2 cups of vegetable broth. Add the rinsed quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes with the cover on. Take off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes with cover on, and fluff. Save 1 cup and the rest cool to put in the fridge for later use.
- While the quinoa is cooking, massage kale with avocado, lemon juice, and sea salt. This takes about 2 minutes.
- Place quinoa, massaged kale, black beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, and red onion in bowl. Top with Tajin seasoning, cilantro, and hemp hearts if desired.
- Feel free to improvise with the fresh vegetables you have available.
- Feel free to experiment with other grains, such as amaranth, farro, brown rice, wild rice, teff or sorghum.
- Prepare in advance for meal prep or to bring to a gathering, and double or triple the vegetables. There will be enough quinoa for 6 to 8 servings.
- For meal prep, prepare the ingredients in a mason jar or glass container. Start with the avocado and kale mixture, then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything right before serving, reserving the hemp seed for the topping.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.