Red Quinoa Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

By • August 23, 2013 23 Comments

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Author Notes: This is my red quinoa salad with roasted squash, white beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro, all mixed in a spicy lime vinaigrette. The bright, citrusy element of the dressing complements the filling, richness of the squash and beans, which also really helps to lighten up this whole grain, whole veggie meal. Jillian Bernardini

Food52 Review: This is one of the best quinoa salads I've ever made. The dressing is insane -- I would love to make ceviche with it! When roasting the pumpkin seeds I added an extra teaspoon of olive oil to effectively make a paste with the paprika to coat. I would recommend tossing the salad with half of the dressing to start, and adding as you go. This has some great flavors and texture going on. boozeandsusan

Serves 4


  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a small bowl, combine the shallot, garlic, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and red pepper.
  2. Gradually whisk in the olive and canola oils in a slow steady stream until combined. Taste for seasoning, and set aside until ready to dress the salad.

Quinoa Salad

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled, seeded butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 15 ounces white beans or 1 can, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, combine the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and paprika in one even layer. Toast for 8 minutes in the oven, or until browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees, and on the same baking sheet, combine the butternut squash and canola oil. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway through to evenly brown and caramelize. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, toast the quinoa, stirring often, for 2 minutes, or until the grains are aromatic. Add the water and a pinch of salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
  4. Add the squash, white beans, half of the pumpkin seeds, and half of the cilantro to the quinoa. Drizzle with the lime dressing and toss gently. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

More Great Recipes: Quinoa|Beans & Legumes|Rice & Grains|Vegetables|Entrees

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Comments (23) Questions (0)


6 months ago Danielle

It's just starting to feel like spring here, and this was the perfect dish to transition seasons. The hearty squash and beans paired with the bright citrus and cilantro is such an unexpectedly delicious combination. Separately, I may become addicted to these pumpkin seeds. So good!!


6 months ago skm818

Trying to incorporate more quinoa in my diet. Snowed in and wondering it it would be substantially different if I roasted sweet potatoes instead?


6 months ago Arakasi

I'm pretty sure that would be awesome.


6 months ago skm818

Great to know you think so. I'm going to get started now!


6 months ago Jillian Bernardini

That sounds like a lovely alternative! As long as they still have a nice textural balance with the quinoa, sweet potato would be great.


6 months ago Arakasi

I think the pepitas come out better if you toast them first, and then toss with oil and paprika.


7 months ago Leanne Lamoureux

Is this meant to be cold? Can it be made a day ahead and kept?


7 months ago Jillian Bernardini

You can enjoy this at room temperature, or chilled. If you make it a day ahead, I would wait to toss in the vinaigrette, so the mixture doesn't get overly soaked or soggy!


10 months ago rachelanna

This ended up so, so delicious. Making the dressing a day ahead was totally fine. I cooked the quinoa the night before too -- made it easy enough to throw together on a Monday night after a long day at work. This is going in the dinner rotation for sure.


10 months ago QueenOfGreen

This is my new favorite desk lunch! (I topped it off with a little grilled chicken too.)


11 months ago rachelanna

I'm excited to make this tomorrow. Question: can I make the dressing a day ahead? Trying to prep for the week. If anyone has tested this out/has a hunch, let me know. Thanks!


11 months ago Margey DeHuff Sebastian

Yes! Just give it a good whisk.


12 months ago Manhattan Tart

Much more delicioius than the sum of its parts. Though there are multiple components at work here, they certainly all seem to work together beautifully, taste-wise. I'm not a huge smoked paprika fan but used the full amount with great success. I skipped the pepper flakes in fear of the dressing being too spicy and I'm glad I did. It was great w/o. I could see that a bit of baby kale, wilted, would also be great in this.


about 1 year ago Marques

Fantastic recipe! Just had a feeling it would be good...It's summer, so used new corn and asparagus instead of butternut squash. Went light on the peppers because I was serving to others, but it could stand more heat. Wiil DEFINITELY add this to the rotation, maybe try different peppers.


over 1 year ago Adam Eran

Boy, I really wanted this one to work. Maybe I messed it up, but I don't think so. My only modification: serrano rather than jalapeno chili. Threw a lot away.


over 1 year ago Amanda

I made this for an Oscar party and it was a hit! I doubled the recipe and am still eating it. Tastes even better as the days go on. Love it, and will definitely make this again.


over 1 year ago Lauren R

I have made this several times now for a dinner party, a friend who was recuperating from surgery, and a potluck. Each time it hits the spot. It travels and stays well. The mix of ingredients, tastes and textures are so perfect. Thanks for sharing!


almost 2 years ago blackberry

This is an outstanding quinoa recipe...I've converted many onto quinoa with this one! I could eat this on its own all week long. I've made it at least a handful of times to rave reviews, and it's now in the regular rotation. At first I was very modest with the jalapeno and flakes, but once all the ingredients are assembled, the sweetness of the squash balances perfectly with the light heat of the jalapeno and chili flakes, the smokiness of the paprika, and the bright acidity of the lime. Perfect! Also love how healthy and nutritious the mix of ingredients are. I generally cut the oil in the dressing down in half as I like my dressings more acidic, and it still tastes perfect to me. Thanks for a great recipe Jillian! Tonight it's being paired with piri piri bbq chicken :)


almost 2 years ago Jillian Bernardini

Thanks so much for sharing my recipe and all of the kind words! Hope to post some more healthful, flavorful new dishes for the winter!


almost 2 years ago Margey DeHuff Sebastian

Delicious! Pretty easy to make, although a little time consuming. Well worth it, in my opinion. The dressing is wonderful


almost 2 years ago Patty Crafton

Made this last night to serve with grilled skirt steak. It was very good. The roasted pumpkin seeds would make a very good snack. The dish was very flavorful but not overpowering.


almost 2 years ago deb

Going to try this.


almost 2 years ago nutritioulicious

mmm...this looks delicious and so many nutrient-rich ingredients!