Vegan Quinoa Fiesta Salad
Fiesta salads have all the best ingredients: tortilla chips, black beans, corn, peppers, cilantro, avocado, chipotle sauce, salsa, lime, all the good stuff. This vegan quinoa fiesta salad is topped with corn, bell peppers, green onion, tomato, shredded lettuce, black beans, cilantro, crushed tortilla chips and a creamy chipotle sauce that brings it all together. Somewhere between a taco salad and burrito bowl, this healthy vegan quinoa fiesta salad hits the spot every time.
Fiesta Salad Ingredients
There are endless ways you can put build a homemade fiesta salad. No need to visit Chipotle either, making your own delicious and healthy fiesta taco salads is fun and easy. I’ve put together a specific recipe below but here are some of the ingredients you can work with when making fiesta salads:
- Quinoa or Whole Grain of Choice. I used quinoa in this recipe just to switch things up but you can use brown rice or another whole grain of choice if you prefer. Once the quinoa was cooked, I mixed in lime, cilantro, spices sea salt for taco flavour. You can also skip the grain and go for more of a green salad if you prefer.
- Black Beans. Black beans are a classic fiesta salad ingredient. You can use canned black beans as is, you could cook canned black beans with some spices and garlic or you can use your own cooked black beans. If cooking your own, add garlic, onion and spices for extra burrito flavour. Lentils or chickpeas also make a great choice. I used plain, drained and rinsed canned black beans.
- Corn. Corn is another taco salad favourite. You can corn from fresh corn on the cob or you can use canned or frozen kernels. To extra flavour, frozen, broil the corn with some salt, pepper and chili powder until slightly charred. This step is optional but I love the flavour it adds. I used plain thawed frozen for this recipe.
- Avocado. Since this salad already has a chipotle dressing, I went with diced avocado rather than guacamole but if you like, a quick homemade guacamole would be good too.
- Fresh Tomatoes or Pico de Gallo. I used fresh diced tomato for this recipe but store-bought or homemade salsa or a quick pico de gallo are also excellent choices.
- Pepper and onions. I used diced red and orange bell peppers and green onion for this recipe. Red or white onion and any colour of bell pepper also work. For an extra step, you an saute the veggies in taco spices like paprika, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder before adding to the salad.
- Shredded Lettuce. I really like the added texture and volume shredded lettuce adds. I used shredded romaine lettuce for this recipe. You could also go with a darker leafy green such as spinach or kale to boost the nutrient content.
- Tempeh. I used cubed tempeh for this recipe to add extra texture, flavour and protein. Baked tofu, dry-fried spiced tofu or lentil taco meat also work.
- Cashew Chipotle Sauce. For the dressing, I made a simple chipotle sauce with chipotle peppers in adobo and raw cashews. It’s one of my favourite sauces and adds so much flavour to this salad. You could also do a avocado lime sauce, a light vinaigrette or another sauce or dressing of your choice. Chimmichuri and tomatillo sauce are both really good too. The chipotle dressing is awesome though.
- Crushed corn chips. You can either use crushed store-bought corn chips or make homemade chips from fresh corn tortillas. I cut a small corn tortilla into strips, baked until crispy and then crumbled it over the salad.
- Extra toppings. I didn’t use any extra toppings in the recipe but to take your fiesta salad to the next level, add a scoop of vegan sour cream and some grated vegan cheese.
Fiesta Salad Nutrition
This salad is vegan, gluten-free, high in protein, high in fibre and loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Here are some of the other nutrition benefits it offers:
Black Beans. Black beans are high in dietary fibre which lowers cholesteroal and blood pressure. They also provide zinc, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin B6, copper and selenium. Among other things, these important nutrients help maintain healthy bones, protect the heart, prevent cancer and promote healthy digestion.
Tempeh. Tempeh is high in protein and being a fermented food, it promotes healthy gut bacteria. Tempeh also contains calcium, magnesium, iron and many phytonutrients important in protection from disease. Read more about soy in my guide to tofu and tempeh.
Romaine Lettuce. Romaine lettuce is basically like eating nothing calorie-wise but surprisingle it’s high in key minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. Romaine lettuce is also packed with vitamin C, folate and is good source of beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body.
Avocado. Do we really need to get into avocado benefits? It’s creamy and delicious and that’s benefit enough for me. Buuut, if you must know avocado provides healthy and important monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, vitamin C, E, B6, magnesium, beta-carotene and folate.
In addition, with all the raw veggies in this salad, you’ll be loading up on antioxidants and be getting a full days worth of fibre. This salad also boasts 25 grams of whole food, plant-based protein, 35% of your daily iron and 15% of your daily calcium.
Vegan Quinoa Fiesta Salad Recipe
The recipe below is more of a guideline to inspire your own vegan fiesta salad creations so feel free to follow it as closely or as loosely as you like. You can’t really go wrong. They can be super quick and easy and more like a raw salad, or they can be a bit more elaborate for elevated flavours and textures. The fun part is you can make them a little different every time and they always taste amazing.
To enjoy these during the week, prep the quinoa and chipotle sauce ahead of time so you can quickly assemble them during the week.
The nutrition details listed in the recipe are an approximation based on 1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce, 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa, 1/4 of the salad dressing, 1 small corn tortilla, 50 grams of tempeh, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/4 cup of black beans, 1/4 cup of corn and about a quarter each of a red pepper, orange pepper and a sprinkling of green onion and cilantro.
More Quinoa Recipes
- Squash and Apple Quinoa Salad
- Lentil Quinoa Bowl
- Tempeh Quinoa Macro Bowl
- Vegan Chickpea Quinoa Stew
This healthy quinoa taco salad is completely customizable to suit your taste. Follow this recipe as closely or as loosely as you feel like, either way your fiesta salad is going to come out delicious. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
For the Cilantro Chili Lime Quinoa (makes 4 salads)
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked)
- big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- squeeze of fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp each chili powder, paprika and garlic powder
- generous pinch of sea salt
For the Cashew Chipotle Sauce (makes 4 salads)
- 2/3 cup raw cashews
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 chipotle peppers in adobo plus 2 tsp of the adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup
For the Fiesta Salad
- diced avocado
- diced fresh tomato
- handful of shredded romaine lettuce
- black beans
- corn kernels
- crushed tortilla chips (see notes)
- chopped fresh cilantro
- cubed tempeh (see notes)
- diced bell peppers, any colour
- diced red or white onion, or chopped green onion
- Cook the Quinoa. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. I cooked 1 cup dry which made 3 cups cooked, or enough for 4 large burrito bowls. Once cooked, mix with cilantro, lime, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and sea salt.
- Make the Chipotle Sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to a high-speed blender and mix until smooth and creamy.
- Assemble the Fiesta Salad. To assemble the salad, start with some romaine lettuce then top with the rest of the ingredients, including 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa, drizzle with a generous amount of the chipotle sauce and enjoy.
- To make your own tortilla chips, slice a corn (or wheat) tortilla into strips and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until crispy. Once the strips are cool enough to handle, crumble them over your salad.
- To make the tempeh, cut a block of tempeh into cubes then either cook over medium-heat in a non-stick pan until starting to brown or bake at 350 degrees on a lined baking sheet until browned, about 15-20 minutes. I used a flavoured tempeh but if your tempeh is plain, toss it with some garlic powder, chili powder, sea salt, pepper and paprika after heating.
- The sauce makes enough for 4-6 large salads. Adjust the rest of the ingredients as needed.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 594
- Fat: 19 g
- Carbohydrates: 86 g
- Fiber: 17 g
- Protein: 25 g
Keywords: quinoa taco salad, healthy, plant-based