Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

$5.00 recipe / $1.25 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.76 from 33 votes
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I’m a huge fan of “refrigerator salads.” Or salads that hold up well in the fridge so you can make them in the beginning of the week and have something wholesome to eat from all week long. This Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is the perfect example. It has tons of color, flavor, texture, and nutrients, so it doesn’t get boring quickly. You can serve it as a side dish, eat it alone as a snack or in a larger portion as a light meal, or even stuff it into a wrap with some spinach for a quick lunch. Keeping this salad on hand gives you a lot of options!

Want more quinoa recipes? Check out my quinoa archives!

Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

A large wooden bowl full of Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with crackers all around.

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.

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Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

4.76 from 33 votes
Enjoy this Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad alone as a vegan meal, or as a side with grilled meat or fish. Full of flavor, color, texture and nutrients! 
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
Servings 4 (about 1.5 cups each)
Prep 30 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 50 mins

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 ground cumin ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.59)
  • 2 bell peppers (preferable red, yellow, or orange) ($1.98)
  • 2 green onions ($0.25)

Instructions 

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

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 394.8kcalCarbohydrates: 49.28gProtein: 13.23gFat: 16.63gSodium: 511.45mgFiber: 11.85g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Front view of Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with a chip dipped in.

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.

Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad in a wooden bowl with crackers.
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  1. Love it! Going to try tossing in a handful of spinach next time. Recipe works great and it’s amazing as a meal prep for lunches.

    I was generous with the spices and added lime juice to the dressing. I also added diced chicken thigh that was seasoned similar to the dressing.

    I think corn would go great with this! Maybe feta or queso fresco would taste good on top too!

  2. This looks delicious! When I prepare a quinoa salad (or any grain salad), before cooling down the grains I add some of the dressing while it is still warm. This seems to ‘adhere’ the flavors to the grains better than adding it all after the grains have cooled. I mix the remaining dressing once all of the other ingredients are added.

  3. How is this so good?? It’s so easy and so delicious. It almost has a buttery flavor- not sure if its the quinoa or olive oil. Either way, I will be making this often! So many healthy ingredients, and it still fills me up even though its light.

  4. Really great cold or hot. If you’re looking for a hot meal, try sautéing the veggies (or leave them crunchy like I do). I double the spices just because I love a strong flavor, and it’s difficult to get that with quinoa dishes sometimes. 

    1. So delicious! I found it a bit bland as written so doubled all the spices and cider vinegar and then added even more (didn’t measure exactly). I also added a pinch of cayenne and squeezed a little lemon over it. I was also able to find some fresh local greenhouse peppers (not easy to do in Canada in winter). Will definitely be making this again. Super yummy and healthy.

  5. A great recipe for college kids who don’t have a lot of time. This served me well as a nice side with lunch

  6. I love this recipe but I changed it up a bit to suit my tastes. I’m not a huge fan of raw peppers, so I sauteed the peppers with onions and garlic. I let everything cool and assemble. One of my favorite meal prep lunches.

        1. We do get that request a lot, but unfortunately we don’t have a reliable source for the nutrition information. The calculators and databases that most bloggers and websites use to calculate the info can be extremely inaccurate, and for something that can so severely impact the health of people with health conditions, we just don’t feel comfortable publishing unreliable numbers. We prefer to leave it up to the reader to use the database or calculator they trust. I’m sorry and I wish accuracy were easier than shipping the food off to a lab for analysis!