Quinoa Taco Salad

Enjoy this salad for a summer lunch or weeknight dinner. Corn, poblanos, cilantro, and plenty of lime give this hearty vegan salad crunch and zest.

I eat a lot of tacos. Here in Austin, you can’t walk 10 feet without tripping over another taco truck or Mexican restaurant. But my favorite thing is actually the taco in its deconstructed form: the taco salad.

You can take this in as many different directions as there are taco fillings, but I especially like this with red quinoa (although if you had non-red quinoa it would taste pretty much the same). The chewy little red kernels sort of take on the essence of taco meat.

The rest of the ingredients came together from what I happened to have on hand: half a pint of cherry tomatoes, scallions, a poblano, leftover tortillas, etc. This is a great way to use up leftover veggies, meats, and cheeses that you might already have in your kitchen.

This recipe is featured in the summer issue of Foodiecrush


Quinoa Taco Salad

 
Author:
Serves: 2-3 as a main, 4-5 as a side
Ingredients
For the charred corn & poblano:
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off the cob (about ½ cup)
For the cherry tomato pico:
  • ¼ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • ½ lime, juiced (1-2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions, white and green parts, (about 2-3)
  • Sea salt
For the chipotle lime dressing:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
For the salad:
  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups arugula
  • ½ cup cubed tofu (or meat or cheese of your choice)
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ½ sliced avocado
  • Tortilla strips from 1 tortilla, sliced, baked, and salted
  • ½ lime, for squeezing
Instructions
  1. Roast the poblano pepper and char the corn: Place the poblano under the broiler for 20 or so minutes, until blistered on all sides. The time will vary depending on the heat of your broiler. When it’s fully blistered, remove and place in a bowl and cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel, making sure the covering does not touch the pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes or so, until it’s cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, slide off the skin and remove the stem and seeds. Chop into roughly ¼-inch pieces and place in a small bowl.
  2. Toss the corn kernels with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast corn kernels under the broiler for 4-5 minutes or until they just begin to blacken. Remove from the oven, toss with the chopped poblano, and set aside.
  3. Make the cherry tomato pico: In another small bowl, toss together cherry tomatoes, lime juice, scallions, and a few pinches of salt. Set aside.
  4. In another small bowl, whisk together the dressing: olive oil, lime juice, ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, agave, salt, and pepper. (It might taste too tangy/spicy/sweet on it’s own… but remember that it will get diluted when you mix it with everything else). Set aside.
  5. Assemble the salad: In a large bowl combine the red quinoa, arugula, tofu, and cilantro with the dressing. You might not need all of the dressing, start with half and add more to your liking. Toss in the charred corn, chopped poblano, and pico. Taste and adjust seasonings. Top with the sliced avocado, tortilla strips, and a squeeze of lime.

43 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Amy from cozywalls.com
    07.11.2012

    Brilliant and delicious! A lunch break to look forward to or a perfect picnic salad – thank you!

  2. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com
    07.11.2012

    Hooray for tacos! I too eat them all the time–as a denizen of California, I think I’d be arrested otherwise. 🙂 Love the quinoa–and that excellent-sounding dressing!

  3. Loooooordy LOU do I love me some taco salad. I’m kinda falling apart over here.

  4. This looks SO good, and the dressing reminds me a little bit of a recipe I made last night to go with fish tacos. It was a slaw made from red cabbage, onion, and cilantro – dressed with lime juice, adobo chile, and mayo. I like the looks of your dressing, though, and bet it would be great with a slaw for fish tacos.

  5. Loved your recipe for FoodieCrush, Jeanine! I love soft tacos and taco salads, can’t get enough of them. This one looks so perfect.

  6. margo from saucycooks.com
    07.11.2012

    That is one of the prettiest taco salads I’ve ever seen. Nicely done!!!!

  7. Lexi from zubrowka24.blogspot.com
    07.11.2012

    This sounds amazing!

  8. B
    07.11.2012

    Pardon my language, but…Hell Yes.

    As a fellow Austinite, you got me with this one….

  9. Oh wow, this looks delicious! It’s a salad complete will all of my favourite things! I could eat this every day, all day! *hah*

    Love the photo with all of the ingredients! Fantastic composition and lighting.

  10. Heather from sundaymorningbananapancakes.blogspots.com
    07.11.2012

    Such a beautiful and simple meal – the colors are just gorgeous and I love the use of quinoa – red quinoa is so much fun to use, a nice little change from the standard variety 🙂

  11. Kathryn from londonbakes.com
    07.12.2012

    I loved seeing this (and you!) in Foodiecrush. Such a lovely vibrant salad.

  12. ileana from alittlesaffron.com
    07.12.2012

    Love this! And you make it look so pretty.

  13. Heidi @foodiecrush
    07.13.2012

    Thank you sooo much for being a part of the mag. I’ve been a huge fan of yours from the start of your blog and am always in awe of your images and health driven recipes, you got it all! And I can’t help but feel a kindred love since we both have a affection for Carrera marble countertops 😉

  14. Tess Danesi
    07.16.2012

    Eating this now and both hubby and I are in heaven. Totally delicious and simple even though there are several components. I only had a habanero, which I charred, so the heat is pretty intense in places but we both love spicy so…

    Thanks for such an amazing recipe.

  15. Kate from picassohairfeathers.com
    07.19.2012

    Going to make this tonight for dinner!! 🙂

  16. Wendy from cookingquinoa.net
    07.20.2012

    Oh my! Not only is this beautiful it is just the kind of dish that I love! (I could live on Mexican food.) I’ve never tried red quinoa with a taco salad and can’t wait to give this one a try.

  17. Roz from bellavita-bellasblog.blogspot.com
    07.31.2012

    This looks and sounds incredible and healthy to boot! Thanks for sharing!

  18. keianna
    01.05.2013

    Found this on Pinterest when searching for a lime dressing for a Mexican dish. The flavors were perfect and my DH really loved it. Thanks

    • jeanine
      01.06.2013

      oh so glad! thanks for sharing…

  19. Cate from fromwholecloth.com
    03.28.2013

    Oh my, made this last night and it was incredible. So flexible too for various additions/substitutions. It’s definitely going on the “make frequently” list! Thank you for sharing!

  20. Sue from CandlesOffMain.com
    06.21.2013

    I love this idea! Can’t wait to try it.

  21. Crista from peacelovequinoa.com
    07.05.2013

    this looks so good right now….

  22. Alexis from theartofsacredbody.com
    07.12.2013

    What amazing and delicious recipes. I love your web and photo design! So modern, yet classic. I wouldn’t hesitate to share you with my growing audience…in fact, I’ll do that right now!

    Thanks for having awesome content.

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  24. I need to to thank youu for this wonderful read!! I certainly lovedd
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A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.