Taco Salad with Quinoa and Beans

by Apr 27, 2023

Spicing up quinoa and adding some beans makes a great “taco meat” for taco salad. Thanks to Kathryne Taylor for the original recipe in her outstanding vegetable-focused cookbook, Love Real Food.

For dressing, I make my standard vinaigrette and add what I have on hand to make it more Mexican in flavor. That can be lime juice swapped for the vinegar, adding avocado, or if you’re really lucky, you might have some tomatillo salsa hanging around in the fridge. Some kind of chip is nice, either purchased tortilla chips or tortillas you crisp in the oven or in a frying pan with a little oil (which takes 5–10 minutes which you can do as you simmer the quinoa and beans.) Bon Appétit!

Taco Salad with Quinoa and Beans

Servings 4 people


  • 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder Montana Mex red can
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • one 14.5-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups home-cooked beans

Salad ingredients: romaine lettuce, contrasting greens like red lettuce or arugula or shredded cabbage, cherry tomatoes, avocado, radish, and/or thinly sliced red onion. Garnish with crumbled queso, feta, or cheddar cheese and chips or crisped tortilla strips if you'd like.

Dressing ingredients: vinaigrette with avocado and lime juice (see headnote)


  1. Heat oil in a sauté pan that has a lid. Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the rinsed quinoa and water, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 15–20 minutes. Add the beans for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

  2. Dress salad greens and arrange in bowls with tomato slices, avocado, radish, etc. Add a scoop of quinoa & bean and garnish with optional cheese and/or chips or crispy tortilla strips (see headnotes).

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