Quinoa Salad with Black Beans
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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
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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.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
This is such a good quinoa salad recipe. I love it SO much.
Made this with tempeh instead of beans. Came out great. I marinated it for an hour or so in the dressing. Also, added another chipotle for a bit more kick.
Our coworker brought this to a potluck, and it was amazing! Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe… can’t wait to make it myself. Yum
This is a new favorite in our house. I added orange bell pepper and avocado for some more color. It is great with or without the additions.
Perfect timing. This dish looks simple and delicious AND I just happen to have the red quinoa from Local Harvest waiting in my pantry for a recipe. I made quinoa and veggie soup last night. Seems like I’m starting to see quinoa everywhere!
I’ve been reticent to jump on the quinoa bandwagon. I’ve seen so many good recipes but… this is the first with black beans. You may have tipped the scales for me. 😉
Mmmmmm, this combination sounds delicious! I’ll have to give it a try:)!
My first visit to your blog today and I made & ate my version of this fab recipe within 2 hours of finding you -is that a record?! I used some chopped red onion, as I had no green, butter beans and parsley(all I had) and reduced the sugar by half. It was delicious!
O love the idea of combining beans and quinoa with lime! Looks great too! Yummy and fresh.
I am a recent convert to quinoa, and we are using it at our house instead of rice since it has a stabilizing influence on my husband’s blood sugar (he is pre-diabetic). Your salad sounds like a delicious use of quinoa that would be great with grilled food. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find red quinoa anywhere near me!
Well, I have never thought of making smokey quinoa. That sounds great and interesting. And I never knew there was a magazine called SAUCE. I need that!
I just love quinoa!!! great recipe.
Ohh, how I wish I could have tasted this! And I’ve never tried quinoa… It sure looks fabulous!
Karen, I have never tried quinoa (don’t ask my why, because frankly I don’t know!), but you had at lime dressing. 🙂
i’ll come organize your spice cabinet! i love crap like that. i’m am the spice cabinet master!
and that quinoa looks really good, too.
That salad looks good. I have recently been enjoying quinoa.
Nice! I’m thinking that Smoky Lime Dressing will be lovely on some leftover chicken in the fridge that I’ve been pondering for a day or so now. Don’t have any quinoa in the house right now, but I do love to cook with it.
Ok, shredded chicken tacos…cilantro, cabbage, Karen’s Smoky Lime Dressing. Yes, that will do nicely.
I think S will really like this, especially with the beans.
Hi Lori – quinoa, squash, tomatoes and black beans sounds like a perfect combo of New World ingredients.
Emiline – seriously? I’m popping a box in the mail to you ASAP!
Please send me some quinoa from St. Louis. We don’t have any in Springfield.
I love quinoa. I have it a lot with black beans and squash and tomatoes. Yummy.
You recipe here sounds delicious and I think I will try it before the week is up. Thank you.
I am still working on convincing S that he could like quinoa. Maybe if I put beans in it…