Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

December 28, 2009
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia almost 10 years ago, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I cook and eat the way I do today. By 2001, I was the least healthy I had ever been, and I realized that I needed to make some major changes if I wanted to manage this condition, starting with what I ate. I have never had much of a sweet tooth, but I ate a lot of processed foods, so I decided to cut those out and incorporate more whole, minimally processed foods into my diet. I also began reading about the so-called “superfoods,” and the beneficial properties of certain vegetables and legumes, grains, spices, and seasonings. This salad was my first attempt at revamping the classic black bean salad to boost its nutritional punch, and it's still a favorite. It's packed with flavor, and it's rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. It also travels well, making it a great dish for a picnic or bag lunch. I generally cook dried beans in bulk and freeze them in portions, but this works just fine with drained and rinsed canned black beans. Some people detect a bitter flavor in quinoa, which can be eliminated by rinsing it in a few changes of water before cooking; I've never had an issue so I didn't include that step. The cilantro-averse among you can feel free to substitute fresh flat leaf parsley instead. - lastnightsdinner —lastnightsdinner

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a fabulous recipe, full of flavor and so healthy! The salad is easy to make and quick to put together. It is delicious! I love the addition of lime and chile -- it has a good heat but it's not too hot. I could not get chipotle powder so used chipotle Tabasco instead, which worked well and still didn't make it too hot (for me). It is a great salad as a meal in itself or as a healthy side. I will be making this this again! - Jaynerly —Jaynerly

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (or sprouted quinoa)
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice and zest of one lime, about 1.5-2 oz. juice, and 1-2 teaspoons zest
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 cup roasted red/yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • 1.5 to 2 cups cups cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup picked fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. In a large serving bowl, whisk the lime juice with the zest, a pinch or two of salt, the chili powder, chipotle powder, and the cumin. Add the olive oil and whisk until the dressing comes together.
  3. Add the quinoa to the dressing and toss. Add the scallions, red peppers, black beans, and cilantro and toss well to combine. Garnish with additional cilantro and lime zest, if desired.
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25 Reviews

Dee G. September 24, 2014
This salad is DELICIOUS and filling. Made it several times as the recipe states and also have added roasted corn, jalapeno and feta. It's wonderful both ways.
Food T. April 24, 2014
LOVE this! I add roasted jalapenos b/c I like it spicey & sometimes avocados & tomatoes. Can also serve as a salsa with chips- yum! Tastes better the next day too.
Cardigan_Sue May 24, 2013
Made a few changes based on what I had on hand. Used northern beans instead of black beans, dashi to go in while the quinoa cooked and lemon zest instead of lime. Still turned out wonderfully!
rachel W. September 11, 2012
I made this last night with some quinoa I had frozen, added an ear of corn off the grill & chopped raw red & yellow baby sweet peppers from the market & subbed cayenne...absolutely delicious! Even better after sitting & marinating overnight. YUM! Thank you.
bottomsupranch August 15, 2012
Made this recipe a few weeks ago, had never tried Quinoa immediately went into our favorite's folder, so fresh tasting. So this weekend we'll be making it again and taking it to an outdoor concert by the sea in Channel Islands Harbor...the only change I'll be making to it is adding really BIG shrimp. Thanks for a GREAT recipe and LOVE this site!
Dbehr24 February 5, 2011
So I double this recipe, but cut back on the EVOO. I use the juice from the canned beans and fresh orange/red peppers instead of roasted. I use extra chipotle and add in fresh jalapenos for some bite. Then after everything is done I make my homemake pico de gallo/salsa and throw a cup of that in there. Chill it and serve with chips or as a side dish. Party favorite now. Thanks for the delicious and healthy recipe.
KLL5 July 25, 2010
Great article about cilantro
Nela July 24, 2010
This is recipe is delicious, so much flavor. I also added a little bit or sirloin meat (sautéed) and it became a whole meal in a bowl. Can't wait to try it during ski season.
lastnightsdinner July 25, 2010
Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it!
clumsychef May 7, 2010
Delicious! I have another quinoa salad recipe, but it's a lot of work. This one is ready in no time and just a delicious. I didn't have chipotle and the salad needed some bite, so i grated in a few cloves of raw garlic. Good stuff! Thank you very much for posting.
lastnightsdinner July 25, 2010
Mmmm, that sounds like a great addition - glad you liked it!
TheWimpyVegetarian April 13, 2010
I made this for dinner tonight and it was just GREAT! Even my husband, the beef eater of the family, piped up that he really like it. A lot. The only change I made was to add 1/3 mango, small diced, since I had some that I was trying to use up. This is definitely added to my regular line-up now. Thanks!
lastnightsdinner April 13, 2010
That sounds like a great addition - so glad you liked it!
mrslarkin January 19, 2010
FYI, this recipe inspired today's lunch: poblanos stuffed with quinoa and leftover 3 bean chili. Delicious!
lastnightsdinner January 19, 2010
That sounds fabulous! I'll definitely have to give it a try soon :)
mt97 January 3, 2010

Just made this for tonight's meal. I tasted it and it's great. What an excellent salad. I'm going to pair it with some chicken breast and poblano chiles. Thanks for sharing your craft!
lastnightsdinner January 3, 2010
Oh, I'm so glad you like it! The rest of your meal sounds great, too :)
Maria T. December 30, 2009
Brilliant recipe, great combination. Also congratulations for having cured fibromyalgia by changing your diet. I have several friends with the same problem and some of them also got cured just by changing their food intake, specially gluten and meat. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and such a delicious recipe.
lastnightsdinner December 30, 2009
Thank you! I wouldn't say I'm cured, but changing the way I eat has made a tremendous difference in how I feel, and has helped me to keep up my busy lifestyle!
pierino December 29, 2009
Great combination of ingedients. I like to use red quinoa, slight difference in flavor but makes for a nice presentation. I love cilantro but I'm convinced it is not an aquired taste. It has to be genetic. Those who hate it tell me they can taste nothing but soap which is sad for them.
lastnightsdinner December 29, 2009
Thanks! And I'm *so* glad I don't have that issue with cilantro :)
Maria T. December 30, 2009
Bring in the cilantro! Can you imagine that it's almost impossible to find it in Italy. I have to take my seeds from Portugal and italians don't like it!!
pierino December 30, 2009
Interesting observation from a history standpoint. Possibly because Portugal had its colonies in West Africa and and the New World, whereas Italy tried to colonize Albania and Abyssinia. I hadn't thought of it, but I don't recall encountering "coriandolo" in Italy myself.
WinnieAb December 29, 2009
Love it.
lastnightsdinner December 29, 2009
Thanks, Winnie :)