This quinoa black bean salad with cumin dressing is the perfect mix of sweet and savory.
The cumin dressing is packed with flavor. It blends both sweet and spicy elements.
Not only does this quick quinoa and black bean salad taste amazing, this easy side salad is beautiful! You can make this quinoa black bean salad as a side dish. Or you could even eat it as a one-pot meal all on its own.
My good friend introduced me to this Mexican quinoa salad with cumin dressing recipe more than ten years ago. It was the first time I had even heard of quinoa! Quinoa is now more mainstream and can even be found at discount grocery stores like Aldi.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate. It is the seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant. Quinoa is arguably better for you than white or brown rice since it has higher nutritional benefits. It is high in protein, fiber, and other minerals. Quinoa has even been called a "superfood" due to its high nutrient content and health benefits. When it is cooked, quinoa has a fluffy texture somewhat similar to white or brown rice.
What ingredients are in Quinoa and Black Bean Salad?
This zesty black bean and quinoa salad recipe requires the following ingredients:
- Extra virgin olive oil. Regular olive oil would work for this recipe too, but extra virgin olive oil is the is the least processed form of olive oil. This helps it retain more of its natural antioxidants and vitamins.
- Pure maple syrup or honey. I prefer to use pure maple syrup in this recipe since it tends to be easier to whisk together to make the dressing. Aldi's pure maple syrup was also voted an Aldi Fan Favorite in 2020!
- Cumin. Cumin provides another flavor that helps make this one of the best black bean and quinoa salads (in my humble opinion.)
- Minced garlic. Using pre-minced garlic is a time savor and adds additional flavor to this easy black bean and quinoa side dish. I always keep a jar of minced garlic from Aldi in my refrigerator.
- Quinoa. Quinoa is considered to be a grain. It is high in protein, fiber, and other minerals which makes it a healthy choice. Make sure to give the dry quinoa a good rinse before cooking. This helps remove the outer coating that contains saponin. Saponin causes quinoa to be bitter so it is imperative to rinse your quinoa well.
- Black beans. The black beans add color to this tasty black bean and quinoa side salad. They are also high in protein and fiber.
- Red bell pepper. Red bell peppers are the sweetest bell peppers. The red makes a dramatic contrast when mixed with the rest of the salad.
- Cilantro. Did you know that some people think cilantro tastes like soap? This actually has to do with your genetics! I, on the other hand, love cilantro and use it in my favorite dishes like the Best Salsa Verde Enchiladas.
- Green onions. The green onions add a little spice to the black bean and quinoa salad. The number of green onions you add is really a personal preference. I've purchased some green onions that were very strong and only added one green onion to this recipe.
Quinoa Black Bean Salad with Cumin Dressing
Ingredients for the dressing:
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsps. pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
Ingredients for the salad:
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 can black beans
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
- 3-5 green onions (sliced)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup or honey, cumin, and minced garlic. Set aside.
- Rinse the quinoa in a strainer. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa to the water. Cover and turn the heat to low. Let the quinoa cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Drain and rinse the black beans. Set aside.
- Chop the cilantro. Slice the green onions. Chop the red pepper.
- After the quinoa is cooked, add all ingredients - including the dressing - to a large bowl and mix the ingredients together.
- Serve the quinoa salad either warm or cold.