Mexican-Inspired Black Bean Quinoa Salad {Gluten-Free}

It’s summer, and you know what that means?


When the weather is warmer, we often crave lighter, more cooling foods. For that reason, I like to prepare healthier alternatives to the heavier potato, egg and pasta side salads we typically see at picnics, potlucks and cookouts.

If you want a quick and delicious dish to bring to your next cookout or potluck, give this one a try! It’s packed with plant-based protein, healthy fats, filling fiber, and TONS of flavor.

It also gave me a reason to use these beautiful spring onions 🙂

Aren't these pretty?

This recipe was inspired by one from Angela, who writes an amazing blog over at ohsheglows. She just came out with her first cookbook, too! It’s on my wish list.

I made a few tweaks to the salad itself and the dressing based on the flavors we like.

The original recipe called for 3 times as much cilantro, but I find cilantro to have a very strong taste, so I reduced it. I also tossed in some creamy avocado and added a little more flavor to the dressing by throwing in some chili powder and a subtle pinch of cayenne pepper.

As always, Bill added a few shakes of hot sauce on top of his bowl and liked it so much that he went back for seconds! Success 🙂

Cumin-Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad

This salad was delicious. Bill went back for seconds AND had leftovers for lunch the next day! Servings: 6

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or 3 cups cooked). Click here for how to cook perfect quinoa every time. You could also sub in brown rice instead.
  • 1 thumb-sized piece kombu (find it in the Asian aisle of the grocery store)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans (or 1.5 cups cooked), drained and rinsed. We like the brand “Eden.”
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, grated/shredded (about 1.5 cups)
  • 4 green onions/scallions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Set quinoa aside.
  2. Add ghee to medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute 3-4 minutes or until they start to soften. Then, add garlic and saute 1 more minute.
  3. Add quinoa to pot along with kombu and 2 cups water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover about 12-15 minutes or until you see little white tails pop off the quinoa and no water remains. DO NOT STIR the quinoa during this time.
  4. After cooking the quinoa, dispose of the kombu piece, and let the quinoa cool for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork if needed.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, drained and rinsed black beans, cilantro, carrots, green onions and avocado.
  6. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, pour the dressing onto the salad, and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad the day before your next cookout, potluck or party, and the flavors will come together even more once you serve it. If you make it ahead of time, throw the avocado on just before serving, so it’s as bright green as possible.


Chunky Monkey Peanut Butter Chocolate Milkshake (Dairy-Free)


Ooey Gooey Triple Berry Peach Crumble (GF, DF)


  1. Lindsay

    I made this a few weeks ago for my youngest son’s 1st birthday party and it was a HUGE hit!! Made a double batch and barely had any leftovers. This is a keeper!!

    • So glad, Lindsay!! I’m happy it turned out so well 🙂 Thanks for leaving a comment to let all of us know what you thought of it! Stay tuned for a healthy chicken “fried” rice recipe later tonight 🙂

  2. Mary Bahr-Robertson

    Hi Rachel, I made this tonight. Yummy! I love it and so does my husband. Thanks so much for another keeper. I am going to make the Crock Pot Lentil Chili this week. Love your recipes!

    • Rachel Druckenmiller

      Oh great! I’m so glad 🙂 The lentil chili is one of my favorites, so I’d love to know what you think. The sundried tomato basil one is delicious, too, if you haven’t tried it yet! I’m getting excited for my upcoming classes next week and the week after at the Institute. So many yummy things we’ll be making and neat things to learn! I love it!

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