Tacos. Tacos are magical. And tacos are super trendy right now. Which is cool. And I’m a supporter (and eater) of all things taco. Which is why I’m also a fan of taco salads. Specifically, this quinoa taco salad with avocado cilantro dressing.
The thing about tacos is this: they are a vehicle for all kinds of delicious combinations of foods. There are the typical meat choices of carnitas, lengua (my personal favorite), and carne asada. But you can also make tacos with adobo cauliflower, asparagus and white bean, or whatever you have in your fridge. Really. Truly. It’s a very universal food and extremely accommodating while simultaneously being forgiving and comforting. Like pizza, it’s perfect for leftovers. So are salads. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Quinoa Taco Salad
The spices mixed with the quinoa add a bit of heat and increase the flavor of this gluten free whole grain. The avocado cilantro dressing is smooth and saucy and creamy without any dairy. The fresh bell peppers and sweet corn take full advantage of summer produce at it’s peak. And the black beans add a savory protein punch. And that’s all ingredients. Yep. But while it lacks a lengthy ingredient list, it does not lack in amazingness.
This quinoa taco salad is:
And it only takes 20 minutes if you’ve got canned beans and leftover grains (because I always have leftover grains in my fridge).
The other thing I particularly enjoy about this quinoa taco salad is its versatility. Because I’m a believer that anything you put on pizza or tacos, can also be put on a salad or on top of other vegetables. Let’s break that down a bit, shall we?
If I’ve got baked marinated tofu, I can put it on pizza, have it with a noodle bowl, or put it in a spring roll. It would also make an excellent vegetarian/vegan swap for chicken in any Asian chicken salad recipe. Leftover korma curry? It makes perfect pizza sauce for Indian pizza. Or, lightly saute hearty greens like cabbage, kale, or collards and serve as a warm salad. Salads are an all inclusive food (good information for the green salad hater in my household) with many different kinds and varieties.
So whether you’re in the taco camp or salad camp, this quinoa taco salad can meet all your dinner needs.
Quinoa Taco Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 ounces mixed greens
- 1 cup diced bell peppers
- 2 ears corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 1/2 cup avocado cilantro dressing
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Pour in cooked quinoa. Sprinkle cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper over quinoa. Mix well until quinoa is warmed and spices are distributed.
Place mixed greens in a large serving bowl. Top with bell peppers, corn, cooked black beans, and warm quinoa mixture.
Top with avocado cilantro dressing and serve immediately.
Using canned black beans? Be sure to rinse and drain a 14.5-ounce can. If you're preparing this quinoa taco salad to eat later, don't add the avocado cilantro dressing just yet. Pack it separately and take it with you. Or, toss the dressing with your ingredients and pack your greens separately. That way, your mixed greens won't get wilty.
Looking to add a bit extra? Fajita style chicken breast or seasoned ground turkey would be good addition to this quinoa taco salad.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
Pepitas, pickled onions, or even cotija cheese would be excellent toppings on this quinoa taco salad. Serve them on the side so everyone can customize their salad.
Beans are quite easy to make from scratch on the stove top or the slow cooker. Just remember to soak them overnight.