A perfect make-ahead salad and side dish! This Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe is packed with black beans, fresh avocados, bell peppers, and red onions. Then tossed in an easy homemade dressing with fresh orange juice, cilantro, honey, and a touch of jalapeño!
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Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Spring and Summer are times of the year when you can never have too many shareable salads in your repertoire.
This salad was purely made by accident (as is most of my favorite salads). It was made from things I had laying around the kitchen with no intention of turning it into a recipe BUT it came out so good that first time I wrote it all down so I could replicate it again (and again).
With a few refined tweaks from the initial salad I threw together, this Black Bean Quinoa Salad was born.
What I most love about this one is the out of the ordinary salad combo of the fresh orange, cilantro, and just a tad of jalapeño. It gives it a freshness and makes it stand out from a lot of the other salads you might find on a potluck table!
For this salad we are making our own dressing that will require a blender/food processor. You can use either option and if I am being honest if you have a single serve blender this works best for the amount of dressing we are making!
- Uncooked Quinoa – Quinoa comes in a few different colors, typically the classic tan color is what you see most often but at the store trim-color blends are red quinoa are also common. You really can use whichever one you want for this salad. Anyway you go quinoa is a nutrient rich food being high in protein, fiber, folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Long list right?!
- Black Beans – Another nutritional powerhouse. You will want the beans to be drained & rinsed well for the salad.
- Avocado – I say that the trickiest part of this salad is making sure you have an avocado ripe at the right time you want to use it! If you can’t find a ripe avocado you should check the frozen foods section of the store, more and more often now I am seeing frozen chunks of avocado, just thaw and use!
- Orange Bell Pepper – I though orange bell pepper held the perfect amount of sweetness for this salad compared to some of the other colors of bell pepper, it also looked nice too! But of course if you can’t find an orange one you can substitute, yellow would be my next choice than red.
- Red Onion – Red onion gives a little zing to the salad, out of all of the ingredients this is probably the one you can use more of less of the most judging on tastes, personally I love the red onion so if it was just me eating it I would add a little more but my kids aren’t huge fans so I sometimes will use a little less.
- Navel Orange – Fresh juice is key here, so you will need 1 navel orange. One orange should be plenty to provide for both the zest and the juice.
- Olive Oil – For the dressing, a nice flavored olive oil will be best here since it isn’t being cooked, so not extra virgin olive oil, something full bodied.
- Honey – Just a tad to offset the cilantro and jalapeño, feel free to use a different sweetener if you would like to make this dish vegan friendly.
- Cilantro – You won’t need a lot for the actual dressing itself but I recommend chopping up a little extra for garnishing the top of the salad.
- Jalapeño – I know that people will question the spiciness level because there is a jalapeño in the dressing. Because you are going to deseeded it and remove the pith (white insides) the jalapeño won’t be spicy but it will have that wonderful jalapeño flavor. Capsaicin, the chemical that contains fiery heat, is concentrated in the inner white pith of the pepper. So when you remove that you will just get all of the flavor of the jalapeño but without the heat! So just be sure to get that all out of the pepper, I find using a spoon to scrape it out is actually the easiest way!
- Salt – Use kosher salt or fine sea salt
For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.
Feel Free to cook the quinoa ahead of time and then assemble the salad when you are ready, no need to freshly make the quinoa. You could even have it cooled down in the fridge so it is chilled and ready to eat.
We will start be making the quinoa. Add 2 cups water to a medium sized pot. Cover and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling add the uncooked quinoa. Bring the pot back to a boil then reduce to low and simmer. Simmer covered about 10 minutes, until the quinoa is softened and absorbs all the water. Fluff the quinoa and set aside to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking prepare the rest of the salad. To make the dressing add the fresh orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, honey, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt to a blender or food processor (a single serve blender works great for this amount). Blend until smooth about 30 seconds.
To build the salad add the cooked quinoa, black beans, avocado, orange bell pepper, and red onion to a large bowl. Add the dressing a toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate to cool before serving.
tips, tricks and questions
How long does this Black Bean Quinoa Salad keep?
This salad only keeps okay… because of the avocado I find that it will keep for one night in the fridge but not much longer than that otherwise the avocado starts to get too brown and mushy.
Is quinoa and black beans good for you?
Yes! Both of these foods are full of nutrients you body needs. Quinoa is a nutrient rich food being high in protein, fiber, folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Black Beans are rich in antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy carbs!
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 small red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 packed tablespoon cilantro
- 1/4 jalapeño, deseeded & white insides removed
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Add 2 cups water to a medium sized pot. Cover and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling add the uncooked quinoa. Bring the pot back to a boil and reduce to low to simmer. Simmer covered about 10 minutes, until the quinoa is softened and absorbs all the water. Fluff the quinoa and set aside to cool.
- While the quinoa is cooking prepare the rest of the salad. To make the dressing add the fresh orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, honey, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt to a blender or food processor (a single serve blender works great for this amount). Blend until smooth about 30 seconds.
- To nuild the salad add the cooked quinoa, black beans, avocado, orange bell pepper, and red onion to a large bowl. Add the dressing a toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate to cool before serving.
The jalapeño will not make this spicy if you remove all of the seeds and the white insides, that is where the heat is. By using the green outside of the pepper you will get a great jalapeño flavor without the heat. (But keep in mind that spice will vary from jalapeño to jalapeño.)
To make this vegan swap out the honey for your favorite vegan sweetener.
Serving Size:1/8th of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 302mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g
Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.