Olé for Quinoa

Homemade Southwestern Mexican Quinoa Salad

You could call quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, a wonder food. Gluten-free and chock-full of protein and potassium, this Incan staple has transformed itself into a modern-day superfood. It works as well with Mexican flavors as it does with flavors of the Middle East or the Mediterranean.


Cook a double-batch of quinoa when you make this recipe. Quinoa stays safe in the refrigerator for three to five days and keeps its quality in the freezer for a month, indefinitely in a 0F freezer.

If you make this recipe in a enameled pan, you can use the pan for cooking the quinoa, for mixing the ingredients and for serving the quinoa at the table. A regular cooking pot also works to cook the grain and to mix all the ingredients together, but you will want to transfer the finished product to a larger, more attractive serving dish for presentation.

Total Time: 30 minutes | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-ounce container of salsa
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen or canned
  • 1 4.5-ounce can diced green chiles, optional
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 cup Mexican queso fresco cheese, crumbled  
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, whole or roughly chopped


Substitutions: pinto beans for black beans, Monterey Jack for the queso fresco or diced cucumbers for the corn kernels. For a more spicy dish, substitute jalapeño chilies for the green chiles. Or to tone down the heat, use diced roasted red bell peppers.


  1. In a large saucepan, add the quinoa to the water and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove and add the beans, salsa, corn, chiles and cumin. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
  3. To the same pot, add the cheese and cilantro and stir briefly to incorporate. 
  4. Serve the quinoa hot or at room temperature. Or refrigerate the dish and serve it cold as a salad.


Transform quinoa into a Mediterranean salad with diced cucumbers, sliced red onions, fresh tomatoes and a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, olive oil and minced garlic.

For a Middle Eastern quinoa dish, use chopped dried apricots, toasted almond slices, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and ground black pepper. Toss the mixture with a tablespoon of butter or olive oil.