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A super-tasty and nutrition-packed quinoa salad with black beans, sweet potato and a smoky lime and chipotle chili dressing. This is a perfect recipe for healthy meal planning.
Say hello to one of our favorite healthy recipes – a quinoa salad with black beans that’s perfect to make ahead for a busy week.
The tender 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.
In my book, black beans and sweet potatoes go together beautifully.
I often pair them up in salads and side dishes like my Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with a creamy avocado dressing.
What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa has a neutral taste, which is why it makes 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 texture that I find pleasantly crunchy with a mild, nutty flavor.
Healthful benefits of quinoa
You might already know that quinoa is a superfood, known as The Mother Grain, basically regarded as a miracle among 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.
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!
To cook quinoa, just 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.
How long does quinoa salad last in the fridge?
I’ve snacked on this salad for days after making it.
Quinoa salad holds up well in the fridge up to 5 days without getting soggy or losing it’s 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
Quinoa Black Bean Salad
- 3 tablespoons (45 mi) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup or honey (non-vegan)
- 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.
- Variations: Add in avocado chunks, sweet red bell pepper slices and feta cheese crumbles.
- 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 making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.