This healthy salad features protein-packed quinoa and beans, grilled corn, queso, and a yummy honey-lime vinaigrette, for an easy and delicious side dish.
I’m partial to recipes that put me somewhere in the vicinity of where their flavors hail from.
New England Clam Chowder. Texas Toast. California Cobb. Baltimore Pit Beef Sandwiches. Long Island Ice Tea. Clink-a-link with that loaded drinky drink.
I suppose I think if I close my eyes and simply say the dish’s name over and over, then take a bite, maybe it will teleport me to a seaside port or salty desert oasis.
Sort of I Dream of Jeannie-esque, except I’m wishing for food instead of my master. Or maybe they’re one in the same?
I served this recipe at my daughter’s family birthday party to several quinoa virgins who were more than pleased with their second helpings. Or maybe thirds?
About the Recipe
This quinoa salad finds its flavors in the Southwest. No cactus, no coyotes and we left the chunky turquoise at the gift shop. Elements of this salad remind me of one I’ve had once or twice before from the Whole Foods salad bar. My version delivers plenty of zippy flavor with some earthy depth thanks to the grill.
Grilling the corn while still on the cob sweetens even the earliest picked cobs. Normally I’ll soak the cobs while still in their husks but this day I simply went for it and tossed them straight on the grates, then husked them when cooled. If you’d like to see a bit more char on your corn, simply roast them sans husk.
I used both plain and red protein-packed quinoa for some visual texture and added black beans for even more protein and southwest flavor. Contrasting the spunky onion flavor is a jar of DeLallo Pepperazzi™ peppers I keep stocked in my pantry. They’re pickled and a little sweet, and a little spicy, and man, I love to snack on them whole but in this salad, I’ve chopped them up for a sweet flair. If you’d like, you can substitute chopped fresh sweet peppers for the pickled version.
I’ve given ingredient measurements for the cilantro and queso, but in my opinion, you can’t have too much of either so add more to fit your pleasure. If however, you’re simply not a cilantro lover, sub in leafy flat leaf Italian parsley or tarragon would add good flavor too.
The 4 ingredient dressing is what brings this salad all together with the tang of lime sweetened with honey. A dash or more of the reserved pickled pepper juice adds even more sweetness if you’d like.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram or Twitter with #foodiecrusheats.
Southwest Quinoa and Grilled Corn Salad
- 4 cobs fresh corn
- 2 cups quinoa white or red or a combo
- kosher salt
- ½ red onion chopped, about ½ cup
- 1 6- ounce jar tri-color Pepperazzi™ peppers sweet pickled peppers, chopped
- 2 15- ounce cans black beans rinsed and drained
- Juice of 6 limes
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 4 ounces Mexican queso or feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Grill the cobs of corn in their husks over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the grill, cool and then shuck. Cut the corn from the husks and place the cut kernals in a large mixing bowl.
- While the corn is grilling, cook the quinoa in 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt according to package directions. After cooking, set aside to cool then add to the bowl with the corn, red onion, Pepperazzi™i peppers, black beans, cheese and cilantro.
- Whisk the lime juice, vegetable oil, honey and cumin together in a small bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add more honey to your taste. Pour over the quinoa mix, and stir gently to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Looking for another flavorful, health-conscious salad? Give my Thai Quinoa Salad a spin and win.
Thanks for stopping by, have a great day and make something good.
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So easy and good! I didn’t have those peppers (I’ll have to try to find them though) and added fresh avocado. Delish! Will make again tomorrow and many more times!
I made a half recipe. Had Walla Walla sweet onion (yum). Didn’t have any peppers so sliced in some radishes for color . They went well, but next time would probably dice an Anaheim pepper. Left out the added salt except for what was in the feta and it was delicious! I’m calling this a side salad for hubby and a vegetarian main for me. Love the honey lime dressing :-)
So glad you enjoyed it Dianne, and made it work to fit how many you were making it for.
Shannon, in Arizona
Search for Tri-Color Pepperazzi on the internet
Shannon, in Arizona
I wouild like to know the nutritional information… Shannon
Hi Shannon, I don’t currently add calorie info, but hope to soon. If you’d like to you can input the recipe in an app like My Fitness Pal for the calories.
How much lime juice do you need. Limes come in various sizes, or doesn’t it matter in this recipe? It sounds yummy, and i’d Like to make it soon.
up 12 result
Great piece of post.
Where can I find those peppers? I have gone to Safeway and Fred Meyers but can’t find them anywhere! They sound amazing and I really want to use them!
i don’t have sweet pickled peppers, i want to add kimchi instead. what are your thoughts on modifying the recipe?
I say go for it Stephanie.
My fiance & I have made this approximately 10 times. It is so good! So far it is the only quinoa dish that he actually likes. Usually when I say quinoa, he goes running. With this dish, I actually find him sneaking bites out of the tupperware in the refrigerator.
There’s a significant typo in the sentence that starts “If however, you’re simply not a cilantro lover…”
That sentence should finish “… then there’s something wrong with you.”
Mexican-style grilled corn recipes without chili, lime and coriander (as we call cilantro here in Oz), are like apple pie made with pinecones.
I never used to like leaf coriander – until a Thai friend pointed out that it’s rare in Thai cooking to use coriander leaf without lime and chili. Now, I will use almost half a bunch of coriander (and the juice of half a lime) per serve when I make Tofu Banh Mi, or Black Bean burritos, or a big bowl of roasted corn salsa. I even add chopped coriander leaf and lime juice to home-made satay sauce (I add the coriander and lime – and a couple of extra teaspoons of roasted chopped peanuts – at the very last second before serving).
Just writing that has made me hungry… now I need to go buy some coriander.
How much frozen corn do you think should be substituted for the fresh since corn isn’t in season in PA yet??
Wowza! I had a last minute dinner party and made this salad-pleasing to the eye and incredibly delicious! Everyone raved about it and it will be my new go to salad for entertaining! I love quinoa and loved everything about this salad.
I didn’t have time to throw the corn on the grill and ended up purchasing frozen sweet corn from Trader Joes which worked out well.
I love when I make something for the first time and it’s a big hit—thank you!!!
I’m so glad you liked it Linda, and that your guests did too. Thanks for coming back around and letting me know! Happy cooking :)
One of my favorite salads!!!!!!
Loved this!!!! :-)
I made this tonight and wow was it good. Had to use canned corn and different peppers. Used more cheese and red onion as well. Seriously like a flavor burst in your mouth! Thank you for the great idea. Ps..even the 23 year old son liked it.
Hi! I’m making this tonight. Is it 2 cups of uncooked quinoa or 2 cups of cooked quinoa?
I used 2 cups uncooked and it made a ton of salad! Felt it was the right amount in proportion with the rest of the rest of the ingredients.
Definitely making this soon…and hopefully my boyfriend will enjoy it as well. Thank you Heidi!!
Heather - Butter & Burlap
Hello new favorite summer salad! I’m a sucker for anything southwest, Mexican, tex-med, and spicy! Love this recipe! So glad I stopped by your site!
Don’t you love summer flavors? This looks super delicious and would be a great make ahead salad for the week. Beautiful!
Laura (Tutti Dolci)
I want to eat my weight in this salad, love all the colors! And the cilantro <– Love!
This salad sounds fantastic! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d make in a big batch on Sunday and pack for work lunch all week. So many intense flavors.
Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
I think we need to make this when you come to Pure Michigan.
nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps
Helllllooooo summer. Beautiful, refreshing and healthy, just the way I like my summer dishes.
What a wonderful combination, great summer recipe!!
Annalise @ Completely Delicious
Perfect for this time of year. I think I could eat this for dinner every night till October!
Cecile @ Mywww.myyellowfarmhouse.com Yellow Farmhouse
I really like the combination of ingredients – and the sauce with cumin, honey and cilantro sounds delicious!!
And bonus, it’s so easy!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
This is pure summer deliciousness!! Loooooving this idea!
Sarah | Broma Bakery
Heeeeck yes! I’m partial to New England Clam Chowder, too. And though I don’t have roots in the southwest, I’m totally feeling this salad!
Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog
I love those peppers too, and this salad looks delish, a total crowd pleaser that I need to try!
Me too, Phi. I love their pucker of spicy sweet.
I will be making this all summer long!
Hey Heidi, lovely salad you’ve stirred yourself there, healthy and various ingredients in a perfect blend. Totally fell for it!
Me too Amber, I’ve been eating it for lunch all week.
Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life
We LOVE this kind of salad here! Southwest, Tex-Mex, Mexican are all big favorites. The more cilantro the better!
See Michelle, I need to make more Tex-Mex! I’m all about Mexican but I too often skip over that tasty style. And I feel bad for people that don’t like cilantro, it’s one of my favorites.
OK. I want this salad for dinner tonight. Looks fabulous, Heidi!
Meg @ The Housewife in Training Files
This salad is right up my alley – anything with southwest flavors and I come running!