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southwestern quinoa salad in a white bowl
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5 from 4 votes

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with “Mole” Vinaigrette

Southwestern Quinoa Salad is light, refreshing, sweet, and spicy. Ready in just 20 minutes, it's a great recipe for meal prep or or for a light dinner. Super healthy, packed with protein, totally tasty, gluten free, and vegan friendly!
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 278kcal
Author: Anjali Shah


For The Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • ¾ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For The Salad

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa at room temperature. Reduce to 1 cup for a lower-carb option.
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds roasted and salted
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup green onions or red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 Fresno chile or jalapeño pepper diced
  • 2 15oz cans black beans rinsed and drained. To make this low carb, use tofu or tempeh instead of beans, or use half the amount of beans.
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves or mixed greens


  • Combine first 7 salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl; gradually add oil, stirring well with a whisk.
  • Combine quinoa and next 6 ingredients (through beans) in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Add spinach or mixed greens; toss to combine.



Recipe Variations
  • Try adding in different ingredients: Chickpeas, avocado, sweet corn kernels, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, parsley, or your favorite greens would all go well in this salad.  
  • Add nuts: Try chopped almonds, pecans, pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, or walnuts.  
  • Add cheese: Try crumbled goat cheese, feta, or queso fresco.
  • Switch up the dressing: Instead of a mole inspired dressing, try a lime dressing, or simply toss the quinoa salad with olive oil, salt and pepper before serving.
Top Tips for Making This Healthy Quinoa Salad
  • Use canned black beans to cut down on the prep time!
  • Feel free to change up the ingredients with your favorite add-ins (see recipe variations above)
  • You can also cook your quinoa in the instant pot to save time. To cook in the instant pot: put 1 cup of dry quinoa with 1.5 cups of water. Pressure cook on high for 1 minute, natural release for 10 minutes. Open lid and the quinoa should be ready to go!
  • Store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3-4 days. 
Slightly adapted from CookingLight


Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1062mg | Potassium: 603mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g