Hey! What you are looking for? This zesty quinoa salad is full of vibrant flavors and colors. Made with black beans, mango, lime juice, and more, this vegan quinoa salad makes a perfect meal-prep lunch, light summer dinner, or BBQ side dish!
And the best of it is some flavor combinations are simply a match made in heaven, and this Zesty Quinoa Salad is exactly that! The earthiness of the quinoa and black beans meets the sweetness of the mango and the brightness of the lime juice and zest! Add in punches of flavor from the cilantro and jalapeño and you’re in business! Well, it sounds good, right?
The flavors of this quinoa salad were inspired by my recipe for black bean mango salsa. I tweaked it a bit by swapping red bell pepper for the green and adding avocado and lime zest!
I love meal-prepping this salad for easy lunches throughout the week. But this vegan quinoa salad also makes a perfect light summer supper or cookout side dish. And since it’s so flavorful, even your friends will be impressed.
Why I Love This Zesty Quinoa Salad Recipe?
You’ll love this recipe because it’s:
- Quick & Easy
- Vegan / Vegetarian
- WFPB & Oil-free
- Perfect for Meal Prep
- Flavorful & Delicious
What Type of Quinoa Should I Use?
Quinoa comes in a variety of colors including red, white, black, and tri-color/rainbow (really just a blend of the three colors). For this (and most savory) quinoa recipe, any type will do. I used white quinoa because that’s what was available. I have also written an article on Quinoa Fried Rice: A Nutritional And Tempting Meal.
Zesty Quinoa Salad Fixings
Quinoa: I start with 1 cup of dry quinoa. If you have precooked quinoa, you will need about 4 cups.
Black beans: I use canned black beans but if you prefer you can make your own from scratch.
Mango: I use frozen mango because it’s just easier, but fresh mango is also fine. Just be sure it’s ripe!
Red onion: This is my personal preference because it’s so colorful and flavorful. A white or yellow onion could work in a pinch.
Avocado: The lime juice will help keep the avocado from browning if you meal preps this recipe. Bonus!
Jalapeno: De-seed and chop fine, although if you want a little extra heat, you can leave the seeds in.
Red bell pepper: I love both the color and flavor of the red bell pepper here. A yellow or orange bell pepper could be substituted in a pinch. I tried it once with green pepper and I found the flavor a little overpowering.
Cilantro: If you’re one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, you could try substituting it with another herb like parsley, or just leave it out.
Lime juice: Since you also need lime zest, I recommend squeezing the juice from the lime, but if you don’t have fresh lime, jarred juice will make a fine substitute.
Lime zest: This is what puts the Zesty in this Quinoa Salad. I don’t recommend skipping this ingredient, but if you can’t get fresh lime, the salad will still taste good.
How to Make Zesty Quinoa Salad?
Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water to remove any bitterness.
Add the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a medium-sized pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Then turn the heat down to medium-low.
Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed.
Remove from the heat and place a lid on the pot. Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, prep all the rest of the ingredients. Drain and rinse the beans, finely dice the onion and bell pepper, de-seed and finely dice the jalapeno, chop the avocado and mango into small cubes, and wash and chop the cilantro. You’ll also need to zest the lime and squeeze out the juice. (1 lime should give you about 2 tablespoons of juice).
Once the quinoa is done, add it to a large bowl with all of the other ingredients. Toss to combine and serve right away or portion and store for later. Look Yummy!!!
For the best flavor, cook the quinoa in vegetable broth or chicken broth.
Red bell peppers will add the sweetest flavor to this zesty quinoa salad. Yellow or orange peppers are also great choices.
You can use fresh or frozen corn. If using frozen, just run it under cool water until it’s completely thawed. You can read more about Easy and Delicious Quinoa Bowl Recipe for Busy Weeknights.
Zesty Quinoa Salad Health Benefits
Cut Calorie Consumption
For you interested in losing weight, adding a healthy salad to every meal can be an excellent way to go. As mentioned before, a salad contains valuable fiber, which helps you feel full and satisfied. And, if you start a meal with a salad, you’ll have less room for higher-calorie options that form the rest of the meal.
Dark, leafy greens are very nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a lot of nutrition with a limited number of calories. That means a salad with a large serving of spinach, kale, or Romaine creates a strong foundation for weight loss.
Just make sure to use higher-calorie options sparingly. Cheese, nuts, and dressings can add a lot of calories quickly, so use enough to get a sense of the flavor and texture and stop there.
However, many other fruits and vegetables can make a salad exciting and satiating without allowing you to pack on the pounds, so explore your clean eating options and choose items that leave you feeling satisfied. Another is The Foolproof Way to Cook Quinoa in Rice Cooker.
Access to Good Fats
While salad ingredients can contain fats, most of them are of the healthier varieties than you find in items like meat. For example, olive oil, nuts, and avocados all have fat, but of the monounsaturated variety. These not only help you feel more satisfied, but they also ensure your body can absorb other key nutrients found in fruits and vegetables more effectively.
Certain vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they need fat to be present to aid absorption. Vitamins A, D, E, and K all fall into this category, so you need to consume an appropriate amount of healthy fat, like omega-3, to make sure these vitamins are making it to critical body systems.
Phytochemicals also seem to be easier to absorb when combined with healthy fats. These important chemicals help protect the body from conditions like cancer and heart disease, so eating enough fat to get their value is important, just make sure it is a healthy version, like the above-mentioned monounsaturated options or the polyunsaturated variant found in soya beans, walnuts, and flaxseeds. You can get more from this video.
Full of Fibre
Fibre is a wonderful thing; it helps you feel full longer and can provide a range of health benefits. For example, a fiber-rich diet can help alleviate and prevent constipation and lower cholesterol.
It can also make it easier to maintain a healthy body weight which reduces your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Your blood sugar levels may also stay more even, helping to prevent cravings for sugary foods.
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This fresh and healthy salad is like a taste of summer you can enjoy all year round. It’s made with quinoa, wild rice, cucumbers, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, green onion, and fresh parsley and tossed in a lime-honey. So, make it today, and do not forget to give me your feedback.
Yes! This is an ideal choice for a vegan meal-prep lunch! You can make the salad and portion it into individual containers, layer the ingredients in a mason jar, or just prep all of the ingredients and keep them in individual containers in the fridge.
This Zesty Quinoa Salad is also perfect for a potluck, BBQ, or picnic. Make it a day or two in advance, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and fluff it with a fork before serving.
Store extras in the cooler in an impenetrable holder for as long as 5 days. Try not to freeze.
I track down that the absolute best flavors for quinoa are cumin, dried straight leaf, turmeric, salt, and dark pepper. I additionally love to season it with new garlic and spices like parsley, dill, and cilantro.