Quinoa a la Mexicana is a healthy and flavorful dish of quinoa, tomatoes, chiles, onion, and a simple lime and olive oil dressing. Serve alone as a side or vegetarian main, or add grilled chicken and avocado... "bowl style!"
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks (about Quinoa and "a la Mexicana")
"A la Mexicana" is typically a dish cooked or uncooked with the Mexican trinity of onion, chiles, and tomatoes. Cajun and Creole cooks have their "holy trinity" of onion, celery, and bell pepper, while French cooks have their mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery).
Can you think of a Mexican dish with a combination of onion, tomatoes, and chiles? 2 classic dishes come to mind: Huevos a la Mexicana and bistec a la Mexicana. The trinity finds its way into my borracho beans and my pico de gallo.
I love using quinoa in my cooking due its nutritional profile. 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 120 calories and 4.4 grams of protein. While quinoa an Andean sustenance food and widely used in Peruvian cooking, Mexico has welcomed this healthy, gluten free pseudo grain, and it is easy to find a wide variety of Mexican-inspired dishes that feature it.
Thus, quinoa was a natural ingredient to include as I set about creating a simple and healthy Mexican side dish. With just a few fresh ingredients, quinoa, and olive oil, this dish is ready in 20-25 minutes.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 small red onion, vertically sliced or chopped
- jalapeño or serrano chile, minced to taste
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare the quinoa - I always thoroughly rinse the quinoa. This removes the saponin, the waxy coating that can cause bitter flavors. Another option is to toast it in a pan prior to cooking it. See Do You Really Need to Rinse Quinoa for more information. Add the quinoa to a small saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and allow to cool before making the salad.
- Make the dressing - Combine the fresh lime juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a small jar. Shake before dressing the quinoa.
- Prep the remaining ingredients - While the quinoa cooks and cools, thin-slice the red onion, chop the tomatoes, mince the serranos (or jalapeño), wedge lime, remove cilantro from stems.
- Assemble the quinoa salad - Combine the cooled quinoa, vegetables and cilantro in a bowl. Dress with the lime-olive oil dressing. Toss to mix thoroughly. Garnish with additional lime wedges and cilantro as desired.
🥘 What to Serve Alongside?
We love "bowls" style eating like my buddha bowls, mole bowls, and my tuna poke bowls. We enjoy our Quinoa a la Mexicana as a bowl (as shown in photos). My tajín recipe makes an excellent rub for grilled chicken, as does my mole spice blend.
If you're a vegetarian, add some black or pinto beans. Quinoa is a complete protein, so you'll have a well-rounded meal!
We round the bowl out with avocados (always), and sometimes some crumbled cotija or diced queso fresco. Cilantro, scallions, lime wedges are nice additions as well...
As you can see in the photo below, we enjoyed this on photo day with a white wine. It was an unoaked chardonnay with melon and apple notes and not buttery/oaky flavors. Any light, unoaked, dry white wine will be a good choice, as will a dry rosé.
A light saison or wheat beer are good choices for craft beer lovers.
💭 Tips and FAQ
- How do I get rid of the bitter taste often associated with quinoa? A thorough rinse gets rid of the saponin that causes the bitter taste. Use your fingers to swish it around as it rinses.
- Water is fine when cooking the quinoa, but I find that broth/stock gives a more flavorful result.
- What else can I add to my quinoa salad? Chick peas, black beans, pinto beans, red beans are great vegan options that will make your salad a complete meal. As I mentioned earlier, grilled chicken is a great option, but grilled shrimp, tofu, even pork or steak will be great.
- How long will this last in the refrigerator? This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, and makes great leftovers for 2-3 days. Try to add fresh garnishes, though, as cilantro and avocado wither quickly.
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Our weather has turned warm (95°). This healthy quinoa salad is so appealing. As your region turns warm, I hope you'll give it a try!