This gluten free Fiesta Quinoa Salad Bowl is bright, flavorful, and loaded with veggies for an easy make-ahead Mexican-inspired salad that’s loaded with plant-based protein and perfect to make ahead of time. Serve it as a tasty side dish or a filling main course!
Part 9 of our Gluten Free Grains Month, this blog is part of our Quinoa series in which we teach you what it is, how to use it, and more to spread knowledge about gluten free grains and help make it easier to follow a gluten free diet without missing out on delicious meals!
Quinoa Salad with Summer Flare!
As the weather warms, it seems like fresh produce is everywhere and just waiting to be eaten! With peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and more, it feels impossible to pick just one. So, we didn’t! Instead, in anticipation of summer, we stocked up on all our favorite veggies and put them all together in our favorite quinoa salad.
- It’s light and refreshing
- Full of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber
- Rich in plant-based protein
- Quick to make & perfect for meal prep
- Super versatile and extra tasty!
Fiesta Salad Ingredients & Why They’re Good for You
One of the things we love most about this quinoa salad bowl is how it can easily be modified to fit your needs and preferences. Feel free to go crazy adding in your favorite ingredients and making substitutions. However, to get you started here’s what we used:
- Romaine Lettuce – Often given a bad reputation for not being the healthiest of greens, romaine is actually loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorous!
- Quinoa – A hearty, gluten free grain, quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it an excellent option for a source of plant-based protein.
- Cherry Tomatoes – Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium, and more! As a result, they’re great for your eyes, hair, heart, kidneys, and more! Read more about their benefits here.
- Bell Peppers – A great way to add a little crunch to your salad, bell peppers also pack tons of vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids!
- Cilantro – Cilantro is used to add a refreshing lightness to this dish, but it also has tons of health benefits! For instance, it can help lower blood sugar levels, protect against oxidative stress, and more. (Source)
- Red Onion – Packing a punch of spice, red onions are full of phytochemicals that can help boost your immune system. They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and thiamine. (Source)
- Avocado – Creamy, delicious, and full of omega 9 fatty acids, avocados are also rich in fiber and can help lower blood sugar, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, regulate digestion, and more.
- Lime Juice – Lime juice is used to enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients and adds extra zip to this quinoa salad. However, it’s also a good source of vitamin C!
- Spicy Salad Dressing – Take a look at the recipe card below to find our favorite homemade dressing. Or, choose your favorite store bought version if you’re in a pinch for time.
- Not a fan of Romaine? Use any other kind of dark leafy greens you prefer.
- Not a fan of tomatoes? Replace it with mango for a sweet salad!
- Need a nut free spicy ranch option? Try our nightshade free vegan salad dressing.
Optional Add-Ins & Flavor Additions
Clearly, this fiesta salad is loaded with flavor. However, if you want to spice it up even more, try adding in an extra ingredient or two! Some of our favorites include:
- Roasted Corn
- Diced Chicken
- Grilled Shrimp
- Gluten Free Tempeh
- Pico or Salsa
- Tortilla Chips – like our baked tortilla chips!
- Shredded Cheese or dairy free alternative!
How to Make the Fluffiest Quinoa Salad
Obviously, before you make a quinoa salad bowl, you’ll have to cook the quinoa. In case you missed it, we went into detail about how to make the fluffiest quinoa ever here.
How to Make Quinoa
We’ll give you a brief overview.
- Boil water.
- Add the quinoa, and let it simmer.
- Cover for 5 minutes, and fluff it with a fork.
Pro-Tip: For extra flavor, cook your quinoa with broth instead of water!
How to Assemble Your Bowl
Once all your ingredients are prepped, it couldn’t be easier to make your salad!
- Whisk together the ingredients for your dressing.
- Add all of the produce to a large bowl with the quinoa, and toss to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing.
- Include any remaining ingredients or extras like protein, optional cheese, tortilla strips, etc.
- Toss again until everything is well coated.
Can I Make Quinoa Salad Ahead of Time?
Yes! This recipe will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 2 days. However, if you want to make it ahead of time, we recommend leaving off the avocado until just before serving!Print
Fiesta Quinoa Salad Bowl
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Diet: Vegetarian
Light, refreshing, and full of flavor, this Fiesta Quinoa Salad Bowl is the perfect appetizer, side dish, or main course for summer! Add your favorite protein or leave it as is for a Mexican salad everyone will love. Vegan Option.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 bell pepper (about ⅔ cup), diced
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes or 1 cup sliced tomatoes
- ⅓ – ½ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ – ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- 3 cups + torn romaine lettuce
- Lime juice to taste
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 small or ½ large avocado, diced
- See notes for dressing options
Optional Toppings & Garnishes:
- Roasted corn
- Diced cooked chicken or protein of choice
- Pico de gallo or salsa
- Lime wedges
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and set it aside.
- Place the diced/chopped peppers, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and romaine in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa, and toss to combine.
- Add avocado, a splash of lime juice, salt, and pepper. Then, toss again.
- Lightly pour the desired dressing over the salad, and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Garnish with optional toppings.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Freshness tip – Wait to add the avocado until just before serving if making this recipe ahead of time.
Dressing Options: Combine ¼ cup homemade vegan ranch mixed with ½ teaspoon chili powder. Or, make your own by combining ¼ cup sour cream, ½ teaspoon chili powder, a splash of lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Whisk the ingredients until they are well combined.
Nut Free Vegan Ranch Option: Use our nightshade free ranch and omit spices
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main, Side
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Mexican-American
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 219
- Sugar: 4.2 g
- Sodium: 41.2 mg
- Fat: 9.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.6 g
- Fiber: 7 g
- Protein: 6.1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: salad, gluten free, quinoa, mexican, main, vegan friendly
Do you have questions, feedback, or tips about this recipe? Leave a comment below with any questions or feedback you’d like to share!
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