Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Hi guys! I’m back (finally)! I didn’t expect to take so much time off of work, but as with any relocation, things didn’t go quite as planned. :) But we’re mostly settled into our new home in Nashville, and if you follow me on Instagram then you have probably seen my adventures in exploring new grocery stores. I hit up Kroger and Aldi today and yesterday, and got a bunch of staples to restock my fridge, plus a few items to make this super scrumptious Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad.

While we were in transition and without our kitchen equipment, we ended up having to eat out a LOT. So, after all that restaurant food I was really craving something light and healthy. This Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is light but filling, and can be eaten alone in a larger portion, or in a smaller portion as a bed for something like grilled chicken or fish. Because the salad doesn’t contain a lot of very watery vegetables it holds up well in the fridge, so it’s an excellent option for meal prep!

The dressing on this salad is what really made it for me. It’s super rich and earthy, which helps balance the lightness of the high fiber ingredients. The sweet bell peppers add just enough crunch and natural sugar to keep things fresh. This is one of those salads that is just flavorful enough to keep you coming back for one more forkful after another, without making you feel overly full.

P.S. I got my quinoa at Aldi, which was only $3.49 for a one pound bag (organic!). If you don’t have an Aldi near you, look for stores that have quinoa in bulk bins, which are often less expensive than pre-packaged. Also, my red and yellow bell peppers were on sale, but if you can totally use green bell peppers if you can’t find red or yellow for a decent price.

Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Whether enjoyed alone as a meal or as a side for grilled meat or fish, this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is rich, smoky, and packed with flavor and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com

Whether enjoyed alone as a meal or as a side for grilled meat or fish, this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is rich, smoky, and packed with flavor and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com
4.93 from 14 votes
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Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Whether enjoyed alone as a meal or as a side for grilled meat or fish, this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is rich, smoky, and packed with flavor and nutrients. 

Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $1.25 serving
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 (about 1.5 cups each)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa $1.40
  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.52
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp cumin $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
  • 15 oz can black beans $0.59
  • 2 bell peppers (preferable red, yellow, or orange) $1.98
  • 2 green onions $0.25

Instructions

  1. Rinse the quinoa well using a wire mesh sieve to prevent the small granules from washing away. Allow the excess water to drain away and then place the rinsed quinoa in a sauce pot.

  2. Add 1.75 cups water to the sauce pot with the quinoa, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest for 5 minutes, without removing the lid. Finally, fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool (I placed mine in the refrigerator for faster cooling).

  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

  4. Rinse and drain the black beans. Dice the bell peppers, and slice the green onions.

  5. Combine the beans, bell peppers, green onions, and cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top, and stir until everything is evenly mixed and coated in dressing. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Make sure to stir the salad well before serving.

Whether enjoyed alone as a meal or as a side for grilled meat or fish, this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is rich, smoky, and packed with flavor and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com

Step By Step Photos

Rinse Quinoa

It’s really important to rinse quinoa before you cook it because quinoa has a natural substance on its surface that can taste bitter. Because quinoa is so small, you’ll probably need a wire mesh sieve for this job. If anyone has any other techniques that don’t use a sieve, feel free to share them in the comments! :) 

Quinoa in Sauce Pot

Once rinsed, place the quinoa in a pot. The directions on the package say to use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, but the quinoa already has some water in it from being rinsed, and using slightly less than a 2:1 ratio helps make sure the quinoa is nice and fluffy instead of sticky and mushy. So, I used 1.75 cups water to my 1 cup quinoa. (picture is before adding the water)

Cooked Quinoa

Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest (with the lid still in place) for five more minutes. Finally, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork. Let the quinoa cool (I put mine in the fridge to help it cool faster).

Smoked Paprika Dressing

While the quinoa is cooking and cooling, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl stir together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Black Beans Bell Peppers Green Onions

Rinse and drain one 15oz. can of black beans. Dice two bell peppers (preferably red, yellow, or orange), and slice two green onions. Place the black beans, bell peppers, and green onions in a large bowl.

Combine Dressing Quinoa and Vegetables

Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl with the beans and vegetables and pour the prepared dressing over top.

Finished Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Stir until everything is evenly mixed and coated in dressing. Taste the salad and adjust the salt if needed. Serve the Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad immediately, or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. If stored for later, make sure to give it a stir before serving.

Whether enjoyed alone as a meal or as a side for grilled meat or fish, this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is rich, smoky, and packed with flavor and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com