Mexican Quinoa Salad

ng_quinoasaladA cumin and garlic vinaigrette dressing coats fluffy quinoa, sweet corn, and dark spinach for a lovely and refreshing cold salad. This is based off of a salad I had a New Seasons, which, after having a few bites, I knew I had to come up with my own version. And here it is!

On a personal note, last Friday, in the middle of writing my last post, I started feeling really sick. Before the end of the day was out, all three of us were sick! Thankfully it was one of those 24 hour stomach flus and we had recovered almost completely by the next day. However, I am feeling still a little weak from it, so I think my cooking is going to be quite simple until Wednesday (when I am going to be making a feast for my husband’s birthday bash! Wish me luck!). Meanwhile, it’s hot outside and a salad like this sounds perfect. I think I might make it again tomorrow night for dinner.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

I had made a big pot of quinoa the night before, so I just used the leftovers to make this quick salad the next day.  This makes a little extra dressing, which we enjoyed on both lettuce and cucumber salads. Yummy!

    1/2 cup of olive oil
    1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon cumin
    2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through the garlic press.
    1 teaspoon sea salt

    half a bunch of cilantro, washed and finely minced.
    5 cups of cooked quinoa (I used red, but white would be very nice too)
    Corn cut off of 2 corn on the cobs,
    1 bunch of spinach

1-Mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cumin, garlic and salt together in a small jar.

2- Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl.

3-Wash the spinach and cut the steams off.  Place in a large saucepan with a lid with about 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and allow to steam until the spinach is wilted. Make sure that you never run out of water during this process. Remove from heat and drain. When cool enough to touch, squeeze out any extra liquid from the spinach leaves and chop into small pieces with a knife and add to the bowl with quinoa.

4- Add a little olive oil to the pan just used, and heat until hot. Add the corn and cook until the kernels are just cooked through (if you have really fresh corn of the cob, you needn’t cook very long). Add to quinoa.

5- Add chopped cilantro to the quinoa as well and stir to combine. Lightly toss with enough of the dressing to coast everything, remembering to stir briskly before using and place in the refrigerator to chill. When ready to serve, toss with some more dressing and salt to taste. Enjoy!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    I have never used red quinoa before, only black and red. There’s a quinoa I’ve gotten from Colorado before that is multicolored – boy is that beautiful! Your salad is gorgeous and I am sure it tastes wonderful too – cumin and cilantro, yumm! Sorry you got sick, but glad that you’re better now. I’m sure you’ll make your husband’s birthday meal one to remember!

  2. says

    That looks so colorful and refreshing! What a nice frugal summer meal. Bet it’s nice and tangy from the ACV. Hope you are feeling well, Kimi!

  3. says

    I didn’t even know that quinoa was other colors than white! Granted I’ve only known about quinoa for a couple of months. Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve tried making dinner with quinoa twice and both times my husband turned up his nose. This looks so yummy!

  4. says

    I’m sorry you were sick.
    I’ve never tried red quinoa before. I love the vibrant colors.
    I’ll be looking for red quinoa during my my next shopping trip so I can make this beautiful salad.

  5. Mamahollioni says

    This looks amazing! I have looked for red quinoa several times before and could not find it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Where do you purchase it?? Hope you feel better soon.

  6. Angela says

    We love quinoa, being gluten-free around here, and this looks lovely!
    We can’t add the corn, but I think that fresh peas would be a nice addition instead.

    I have a couple of questions for you, Kimi, that connect to a couple recent posts…

    1) Where do you buy your organic bones (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) to make stock?

    2) Regarding “feast days”, you mentioned that you’ve done a bit of reading on this, and I’d love to get a hold of some of the books you’re reading because it sounds like educational fun!

  7. Sherrie says

    We love quinoa , I make a delicious quinoa salad , is it as expensive in the US as here in Australia ?I used to buy it for $12.50 a kilo and brought a 10 kilo bag and got 10% off . we ran out a few months ago . went to buy it again and it was $21.50 a kilo I asked if it was a mistake ,she said no its gone up and hard to get . so I brought from another company online here in WesternAustralia it was $12.50 a kilo brought 2 /5 kilo bags which cost $12.10 a kilo .made my salad , didn’t realise how much we missed it .I make a dressing with lemon juice, honey and extra virgin olive oil , the finely chop onion, celery, cucumber,tomato, fresh herbs corriander/parsley celtic salt and dried mint , so so so yummy and healthy .
    works out a cup of raw quinoa per salad $2.20 .happy cooking every one
    cheers Sherrie

  8. Sherrie says

    I’ve only been able to buy white here in Australia , are they the same price ?
    does it taste different ?
    might do a search online ,always love trying new foods !

  9. Jen says

    Oh that sounds so yummy…….. I love quinoa!
    I often add my own made up “taco seasoning” to quinoa and serve it instead of ground beef in tacos……… very good too!

  10. says

    I love quinoa, especially red quinoa. I make a salad similar to this with a few more ingredients like pablano peppers and black beans to mention a few. Not good items if you’ve just battled a stomach bug. Yours looks really tasty.

  11. says


    That salad looks incredible. Can’t wait to try it. Have you ever thought of using a rice cooker to make quinoa? Once I tried it, I will always use it. It’s so easy to pour in the quinoa and water and it cooks according to the “white rice” setting and then keeps warm for as long as you need it to. It has made preparing meals pretty darn easy!

  12. Kimberly says

    I love your website!! I have been mixing red and white quinoa together. It’s very pretty and the mix is more flakier then the two alone. My whole family has a rice allergy and qunioa is a wonderful substitute! Cooking it in the oven in a glass pyrex casserole dish with lid works well too. 1 cup qunioa, 2 cups water, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp celtic sea salt, Preheat oven 350 degrees , cook for 1 hr, fluff with fork, Done!

    • catcamus says

      @Kimberly – Given that you are cooking for a family with rice allergy, I wonder if you might know if there are any resources that would tell me what are the hidden ingredients that I should watch out for to ensure a food or personal product does not contain rice-derived ingredients that could still contain rice proteins? I have been searching to no avail. Thanks.

  13. mariah says

    YUM YUM love this recipe. I made it with no spinach, but added black beans and lime juice and bits of chicken for a hearty salad. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Katie says

    I had this salad at New Seasons as well and loved it! Thanks for putting together this recipe. I just made a big batch, and I wanted to recommend adding toasted whole cumin seeds (a TBSP or two) to the mix. It really adds a delicious little bite! Also added a TBSP of red chili paste to the dressing for a little heat.

  15. says

    I took a risk and made this recipe for company the first time I made it. I don’t often make new recipes for company, but I decided that it sounded so clean and easy that I would give it a try. I followed it exactly and was very, very pleased! I will be making it again. I love the tangyness from the vinegar in the dressing. I couldn’t believe how much it left. There were 9 of us eating that night, and we had plenty leftover!

  16. Laura says

    Stumbled onto your site when searching for a Mexican quinoa recipe. Made yours for a party we went to last night. Used the red quinoa. Loved it and got great comments. I probably used 6 cups quinoa and it served 12 as a side dish with half left over (we had a ton of different Mexican dishes to sample, so noone took a lot of any one thing), so it’s a generous recipe. Thanks!

  17. Debbie G. says

    I made this last night and it was wonderful! I confess I did make a change to #3 & #4 which I think simplifies the procedures. Instead of steaming the spinach, and then adding the corn, I did this:
    Put a small amount of butter & olive oil in a large pot and add a little finely chopped garlic. Saute briefly and when the oil is nice & hot, toss in the cut, washed spinach. Stir until it is wilted and then add the fresh corn and stir it together a few minutes. After that, it’s back to the stated recipe.
    Oh… I also added a cup of diced tomato! This is a delicious salad and it satisfied my carnivore husband… he liked it with tortilla chips.

    • Debbie G. says

      P.S. I almost always cook my grains in a rice cooker. Once I figured out how to use it, I’ll never go back to the traditional way! Love it!

  18. Susan C. says

    Just bought the red quinoa yesterday and I am going to try all of your variations. They look so yummy so glad I found this site. Love it so much!

  19. Miguel says

    Why do you call it Mexican quinoa spinach salad?

    First of all, quinoa is from the Andes (Mainly Bolivia). There is no corn tortillas or chipotle or some mexican sauce at all in this recipe. My point is that too many on the English speaking side of the continent see that any thing from the southern part of the continent of America is thought as mexican. Why?

    • KimiHarris says

      Hey Miguel,

      I can see why the title would be confusing. It’s certainly not a traditional Mexican dish! I just called it that because the dish I was basing it on (found at a local store) titled it that way, and secondly because we American often think of garlic, cumin, corn, and cilantro as Mexican ingredients (which they are though other cultures use them as well).


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