The most versatile vegan salad that you can bring to a potluck is this Black Bean Quinoa Salad! It's full of fresh vegetables, a spicy flavorful dressing, and perfect black beans. This recipe is based on my popular black bean salad recipe, but with quinoa for protein!
Ok, this salad looks so fancy on a white plate garnished with herbs, but let me assure you that I serve this in a giant un-fancy clear bowl at all of my parties. It's the first food to be devoured at the party, and everyone asks for the recipe. Literally everyone who takes one bite says 'this is the best quinoa salad I've ever had.'
Truthfully, the bulk of this recipe is my black bean salad that we all know and love. There is just something about the dressing on that salad that made me want to add quinoa and make it more of a meal. The black bean quinoa salad dressing is made with lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire and fresh oregano, and it is truly the best part!
I keep the ingredients for this black bean quinoa salad in my pantry at all times, because it's our favorite lunch to prep ahead for the week. I love this salad so much because it can be served at room temperature, too. Don't miss my instant pot black beans recipe, if you don't have the canned variety.
- Quinoa. You can use white quinoa or tri-color quinoa. I typically buy whatever is on sale. Check the back of the bag or box of quinoa to see if it needs to be rinsed before using.
- Vegetable Broth. I keep this recipe vegan by using vegetable broth, but you can use chicken broth, if you prefer.
- Black Beans. One 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed. I typically reach for the low-sodium canned beans, because we can always add more salt on our own.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Just a handful, about 1 cup, of cherry tomatoes. Any color small tomato is great here, and if you only have a medium-size slicing tomato, that works, too!
- Corn. This can be frozen corn that you defrost in the microwave for one minute, fresh corn sliced off the cob (my favorite), or a small can of corn, drained. I also have a black bean corn salsa recipe you might like!
- Bell Pepper. I prefer any bell pepper besides green for this black bean quinoa salad recipe. I use yellow bell pepper most frequently, but red or orange works, too!
- Green Onions. Also called scallions. Do not skip these; the bright mild onion flavors brings so much to this dish.
- Cilantro. If you abhor cilantro, substitute an equal amount of fresh parsley.
- Olive Oil. This is for the dressing, so I recommend an extra virgin olive oil.
- Lime Juice. Freshly squeezed lime juice is always my first choice, but bottled is fine, as long as its bright, aromatic and acidic.
- Tabasco. A small amount of Tabasco sauce (the same stuff you put on your eggs) brings a vinegary spiciness to the vinaigrette. Use a pinch of ground cayenne pepper in its place, if you prefer.
- Worcestershire. The rich umami flavors of Worcestershire is what makes this vinaigrette have so much flavor. Do not skip it! If you're vegan, use a vegan Worcestershire sauce, as the regular usually contains fish.
- Garlic. Three cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced.
- Oregano. If I could do anything to convince you to use fresh oregano here, I would! It's just so verdant and delightful here. However, you can use 2 teaspoons of dried oregano that you crush between your palms, if you can't find fresh. Fresh oregano is a hardy herb to grow in your backyard, and I grow it myself solely to make this recipe!
How to Make Black Bean Quinoa Salad
First, make the quinoa: combine ¾ cup of quinoa with the 1.5 cups of vegetable broth in a small sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Set the timer for 14 minutes. After the timer goes off, remove the lid and check the quinoa: if all of the liquid is not absorbed, continue to cook without the lid for a few minutes, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
Scoop the quinoa out of the pan and let cool slightly. Then, combine the corn, sliced scallions, chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro, and black beans in a bowl. Add the quinoa to the bowl, too. You can use the serving bowl for this step to save a dish!
Make the vinaigrette for the black bean and quinoa salad: whisk the olive oil, lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the quinoa, beans and vegetables, toss and serve. This black bean quinoa salad tastes best if it rests for a few hours before serving. If it will be more than 4 hours, it should be stored air-tight in the fridge.
- Vegan - This black bean quinoa salad is naturally vegan, if you use vegan Worcestershire sauce. Also, be sure to check your vegetable broth label to make sure it's vegan friendly.
- Gluten Free - This recipe is also naturally gluten-free! Quinoa is such a great high-protein grain to cook.
- Beans - I recommend black beans for this salad, but chickpeas, or white beans could also work.
- Spice Substitutions - Fresh oregano is best, but dried is fine (use 2 teaspoons dried instead of 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, because dried herbs are more concentrated). If you don't have Tabasco, you can use a pinch of cayenne pepper.
How to Store Black Bean Quinoa Salad
This recipe can is great at room temperature, and I happen to think the flavors shine the most at room temperature. However, do not leave prepared food out for more than 4 hours. To store leftovers, place in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not freeze.
- ¾ cup quinoa
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (5 ounces), diced
- 1 cup corn kernels (see note)
- Half of a large yellow bell pepper, finely diced
- 3 green onions (½ cup sliced)
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
For the dressing:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco (or other vinegar-based hot sauce)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked all the way through. It’s done when it releases its curlicue tail and most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to cook it with the lid off to reduce some of the liquid, if you have excess liquid. Pour the quinoa into the serving bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Into the serving bowl, combine the beans, chopped tomatoes, corn, chopped bell pepper, sliced green onions and cilantro.
- Next, whisk together all dressing ingredients: olive oil, lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad in the serving bowl, toss to combine and serve.
Quinoa: You can use white quinoa or tri-color quinoa, both work the same.
Corn: Use frozen defrosted, canned corn, or fresh corn sliced off the cob.
Tabasco: If you don't have this, use a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Oregano: I'm begging you to use fresh oregano leaves here. It makes such a difference! I actually grow oregano in my backyard for this recipe alone--it's very hardy and easy to grow.
- Vegan - This black bean quinoa salad is only vegan if you use vegan Worcestershire sauce and ensure your vegetable broth is vegan, too.
- Gluten Free - This recipe is also naturally gluten-free!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 326Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 419mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g