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A super tasty, nutrition-packed quinoa salad with black beans, sweet potato and a smoky lime and chipotle chili dressing. This is a perfect recipe for weekly meal planning!
Say hello to one of our favorite healthy recipes — a quinoa salad with black beans, chunks of sweet potatoes and a smoky chili dressing. It’s perfect to make ahead and stick in the fridge for a busy week.
The tender quinoa grains are tossed with black beans, cooked sweet potato chunks and a tangy-smoky dressing blended with spicy chipotle, lime juice and garlic.
This is a vegan quinoa salad that holds up well in the refrigerator, which is always a plus when jam-packed schedules are on your plate.
Quinoa paired with black beans
I think black beans and sweet potatoes go together beautifully. It might be because quinoa has a naturally earthy, beany taste all by itself.
I often make quinoa salad recipes because they taste so good. But salads are also the best way to get a double dose of tasty protein, like in my Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.
What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa has a fairly neutral taste that some describe as mild and nutty. Those characteristics make quinoa a great base for so many different global flavors in recipes.
For that reason, I really love spicing up my black bean quinoa bowl with earthy, smoky spices and bold seasoning.
Cooked tender quinoa has an appealing fluffy texture that’s pleasantly crunchy.
Healthful benefits of quinoa
You might already know that quinoa is a superfood, known as The Mother Grain, basically regarded as a miracle among whole grains.
- Quinoa is actually a “pseudo-cereal” grain, harvested from a grassy plant that is not classified as a grain.
- The little seeds are a complete protein, loaded with calcium, vitamins and minerals as well as all nine essential amino acids.
So yes, by all accounts quinoa is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat!
In fact, some have gone so far as to say that quinoa can supply “all the life-sustaining nutrients” compared to all other foods in the plant and animal kingdom.
How to cook quinoa:
Quinoa cooks up quickly, in less than 20 minutes.
- To cook quinoa, combine 1 cup in a saucepan with 2 cups water.
- Simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. When it’s ready, the grains will have a small translucent ring, showing that the seed has “popped” open.
To rinse or not to rinse: Basic recipes for cooking quinoa often call for rinsing the grains in a mesh strainer, because the grains are coated with saponin, a naturally occurring chemical that can have a bitter taste.
Since I’ve learned that most of the quinoa we buy is pre-rinsed to remove the saponins, I skip the rinsing step most of the time.
I’ve never noticed any off flavor or weird texture, but if you prefer to give your quinoa a quick rinse, please do!
How long does quinoa salad last in the fridge?
- Quinoa salad holds up well in the fridge up to 5 days without getting soggy or losing its tastiness.
- I recommend eating it at room temperature or slightly warmed for the best flavor – cold salads can taste kind of dull.
More fresh and healthy make-ahead salads:
- Vegetable Tabbouleh Refrigerator Salad
- Mediterranean Vegetable Salad with Farro
- Black Lentil Salad with Feta
Smoky Quinoa Salad with Black Beans
- 3 tablespoons (45 mi) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup (or honey)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari sauce
- 1-2 canned chipotle chilis with adobo sauce, to taste (choose 2 for more heat)
- 1 small garlic clove
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (170 g) quinoa
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
- 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes *see note below on how to cook, cut into cubes
- ½ cup chopped green onions (about 4-5 onions)
- 1 fresh red or green chili pepper, finely chopped
Make the dressing
- Pulse all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, or whisk together in a bowl.
Make the salad
- Put the quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the grains with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl to cool slightly.
- Stir in the black beans, sweet potato, green onions, chili pepper and cilantro. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to mix. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Add in avocado chunks, sweet red bell pepper slices and feta cheese crumbles if you like
- The salad will keep refrigerated up to 5 days.
- To cook sweet potato: Peel and cut a large sweet potato into cubes. Place in a steamer basket set in a saucepan of simmering water, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast the sweet potato in a 425F oven: Toss the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast until golden and tender, about 25 minutes.
- If you have leftover cooked sweet potatoes, this recipe comes together in about 20 minutes, and just as quickly if you steam the sweet potato while the quinoa cooks.
Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.