Quinoa black bean avocado salad comes together with kale, peppers, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds and a creamy cilantro lime dressing. A healthy & filling vegetarian and gluten-free meal, this isn’t some boring side salad!
This quinoa black bean avocado salad will WOW even kale haters – trust me, there’s one living under my roof! The flavor combination of massaged kale, peppers, cilantro lime quinoa, black beans, and feta cheese is just so perfect. And it’s tied together with a creamy cilantro lime and Greek yogurt dressing.
This is a delicious and flavorful meal that’s vegetarian and gluten-free too! With 15 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein per serving, you can enjoy it as a healthy and filling complete meal.
- Cilantro Lime Quinoa: Completely up to you whether you use this quinoa or cook a plain quinoa instead!
- Kale: Remove the stems and massage the kale before adding it to the salad.
- Black beans: Make sure to drain and rinse the black beans before adding them to the salad.
- Mini peppers: Feel free to swap with 1 large bell pepper instead.
- Feta cheese: I prefer to buy whole feta cheese and crumble it when I’m using it rather than buying the crumbled feta varieties. I feel like it tastes better and more authentic this way!
- Pumpkin seeds: Completely optional, but pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch to the salad!
- Avocado: I love how avocado adds a creaminess to the salad.
- Greek yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, and salt: The perfect combination for the creamy cilantro lime dressing that makes this salad come alive!
How to Make Quinoa Black Bean Avocado Salad
- Cook the quinoa: You can make cilantro lime quinoa or plain quinoa.
- To cook the quinoa: Rinse dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water. Combine 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water in a medium pot. Cook on medium heat until the water comes to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let it cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Massage the kale: Combine kale, lime juice, oil of your choice (I prefer avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil), and a dash of salt. Massage the kale with your hands for about 3-4 minutes. It should be tender and soft (and so much more delicious!).
- Assemble the salad: Add black beans, cooked quinoa, mini peppers, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and cubed avocado to the bowl with kale.
- Make the Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing: In a small bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, cilantro, water, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together.
- Serve in individual bowls and enjoy!
This salad is great for meal prep! If meal prepping, do not add salad dressing to the salad until you’re ready to eat it. Instead, divide the salad into smaller airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to eat, mix in the dressing.
- I think this recipe tastes best with Cilantro Lime Quinoa, especially if you’re looking for more zesty flavor!
- Allow the cooked quinoa to cool slightly before adding it to salad.
- Make sure to massage the kale. Otherwise, it will taste bitter and rough. Massaging kale makes it tender and soft and easier to chew and digest.
Variations and Substitutions
- Make it vegan and dairy-free: To make this recipe vegan, take out the feta. Swap the yogurt in the creamy dressing with a non-dairy yogurt.
- Make it gluten-free: This recipe is gluten-free, so you don’t have to make any substitutions. However, quinoa can sometimes come into cross-contact with gluten-containing sources during processing and manufacturing. If you follow a strict gluten-free diet, make sure the quinoa you are using is labeled as “certified gluten-free.”
- Add another protein source: This salad can be enjoyed as a complete meal – the black beans and feta cheese serve as your source of protein in this recipe. However, if you want to make this salad even more filling, add your favorite protein source. Salmon, broiled shrimp, or grilled chicken would be delicious in this salad!
- Change up the veggies! You can make this salad with spinach if you prefer (just don’t massage it!) or swap the mini peppers with sliced tomatoes or cucumbers. Feel free to get creative with the veggies!
What to Serve with Quinoa Black Bean Salad
This quinoa black bean salad can be served as a complete meal or as a side dish if you prefer smaller portions of it. I think it tastes absolutely amazing with pan-seared salmon and a side of smashed Brussels sprouts or maple roasted carrots. It’s also so good served with shrimp taco lettuce wraps!
If you made this recipe, I’d love to see your creation! Don’t forget to snap a picture and tag me @thebalancedbite on Instagram. Follow along on Pinterest and Facebook for more healthy & tasty recipes!
More Healthy Salad Recipes:
- Peach Avocado Salad
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad
- Butternut Squash and Farro Salad
- Lemon Parmesan Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
- ⅓ cup uncooked quinoa or 1 cup cooked cilantro lime quinoa * (see notes)
- 5 cups chopped kale, stems removed
- Juice from 2 limes, divided
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 mini peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), cored and sliced
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (optional)
- ½ avocado, pitted and cubed
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Salt to taste
- To cook the quinoa: Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water. Combine quinoa and ⅔ cup of water in a medium pot. Cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Massage kale: In a large bowl, combine kale, 1 tablespoon lime juice, oil, and a dash of salt. Massage the kale with your hands for 3-4 minutes or until it is tender and soft.
- Assemble the salad: To the bowl, add black beans, cooked quinoa, mini peppers, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and avocado.
- Make the Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of water, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt to taste.
- Pour dressing over salad and mix together. Serve and enjoy!
*This recipe tastes so good with cilantro lime quinoa - I highly recommend it! However, you can also cook plain quinoa instead if you prefer (instructions above).
This salad is great for meal prep! If meal prepping, do not dress the salad until you’re ready to eat it. Instead, divide the salad into smaller airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to eat, mix in the dressing.
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