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

5.0 from 1 reviews

Quinoa Taco Salad

Serves: 2-3 as a main, 4-5 as a side
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
  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.






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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Roz from bellavita-bellasblog.blogspot.com

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

  2. Wendy from cookingquinoa.net

    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.

  3. Kate from picassohairfeathers.com

    Going to make this tonight for dinner!! 🙂

  4. Tess Danesi

    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.

  5. Heidi @foodiecrush

    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 😉

  6. ileana from alittlesaffron.com

    Love this! And you make it look so pretty.

  7. Kathryn from londonbakes.com

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

  8. Heather from sundaymorningbananapancakes.blogspots.com

    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 🙂

  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. B

    Pardon my language, but…Hell Yes.

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

  11. Lexi from zubrowka24.blogspot.com

    This sounds amazing!

  12. margo from saucycooks.com

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

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

  14. 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.

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

  16. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com

    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!

  17. Amy from cozywalls.com

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

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.