Mexican Style Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is one of those grains that has grown hugely in popularity in recent years with advocacy of its nutritional value and health properties. An excellent wheat-free alternative to other grains it works really well as the base of a salad.


There are a couple of very simple processes to remember when cooking quinoa to get the best out of it and these make all the difference. The first one is that many recipes and instructions for quinoa recommend 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. I personally think this is too much liquid and produces a slightly unappealing sogginess to the end result. One and a half times the volume of liquid to the weight of quinoa (e.g. 200g quinoa, 300ml liquid) gives a much better consistency at the end. Try it out and I promise you’ll see improved results.

One essential element is to rinse your quinoa beforehand. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that produces a bitter aftertaste. Put your quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under a running tap for less than 1 minute to easily counteract this. You can also cook quinoa with boiling water but I think that stock adds a nice flavour that helps the overall dish. This is a very flexible salad so feel free to try out different combinations of flavours e.g some crumbled feta cheese, and/or the addition of diced avocado could easily bulk this salad up as an option for lunch during the week. Slight word of warning, if you’re planning on preparing this in advance to store in the fridge hold back on the avocado and add fresh as you need it as avocado can go brown and mushy fairly quickly.


Quinoa makes a nice alternative to other grains

Serves 6-8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course for lunch


  • 200g quinoa
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 300ml chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 400g tin of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 200g tin of sweetcorn
  • juice of 1 lime
  • fresh coriander to garnish


  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve to remove its natural coating, saponin, preventing a bitter aftertaste. This is an important process and shouldn’t be skipped.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a high heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli, cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the quinoa to the saucepan, stirring for 1-2 minutes until the quinoa is coated in the oil of the pan before adding the ground cumin and ground coriander and stir through for 10 seconds.
  4. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat right down to a very gentle simmer. Place the lid on and cook very gently for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for another 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing up the quinoa with a fork.
  5. Stir through all the other ingredients, add the lime juice, and garnish with roughly chopped fresh coriander

Serve as a side dish or as a main meal for lunch

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