Black Bean Quinoa Bowls
These healthy Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Bowls are quick and easy to make, and are topped with the most delicious Southwest-inspired cumin lime dressing. Perfect for a light vegetarian dinner, colorful side dish or make-ahead lunch!
About this Recipe
These easy Black Bean Quinoa Bowls start with a base of fluffy warm quinoa but come alive with the addition of bright summer veggies, protein-rich black beans, crunchy pumpkin seeds and a tangy honey-lime dressing.
Quinoa salad is one of those recipes that I think everyone should know about and have in their cooking arsenal.
It’s super simple to make, can be packed to take on-the-go, and is lovely served warm, room temperature, or chilled.
But by far the best part is the cumin lime vinaigrette!
It’s refreshing, light, tangy & sweet and really ties all the fresh ingredients together beautifully (don’t be surprised if after you taste it in this recipe, you start adding it to everything!).
Process & Tips
I love that quinoa has a faster cook time than rice & is done in just 15 minutes, so it keeps this make-ahead recipe quick and easy!
While the quinoa cooks you chop up your fresh ingredients, whisk together a quick dressing and your meal is ready in under 30 minutes.
Another time-saving ingredient is the can of already-cooked black beans.
They’re not just a great source of plant-based protein but are one of my favorite recipe shortcuts too (I’ve pretty much always got a can or two in my pantry just in case).
Tip: Add your dressing to the quinoa while it’s still warm. It’ll soak up all the flavors and get even MORE flavorful the longer it sits!
Ways to Serve Southwest Quinoa Bowls
The recipe is very adaptable, so feel free to let your imagination and preferences guide you when it comes to the vegetable combination.
Use what’s fresh, what you like, and what you have!
You can also get creative with extra toppings like sliced radishes, diced avocado, microgreens or even grilled veggies (like in these build-your-own veggie quinoa power bowls).
If you want to add even more protein to this or serve it as a side dish, it would pair perfectly with recipes like this turkey taco skillet, these easy slow cooker turkey tacos or this southwest beef & sweet potato skillet.
If you like feta and you’re not dairy-free, crumbling some on top would be a nice add-on for these southwestern quinoa bowls.
Ingredients & Modifications
Black beans: Canned black beans are a great time-saving ingredient, just make sure to drain and rinse them well before adding them to this southwest quinoa bowl.
Quinoa: I love the ease of using quinoa in this dish, especially since it cooks so quickly and holds up so well with dressings & sauces.
Red cabbage: I used red cabbage for this recipe (I love the punch of color it adds!) but you could also use green cabbage, or any other greens you like in its place.
Cherry tomatoes: The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes works great in these bowls, but you could use another variety of tomato in this recipe too.
Bell pepper: The crunch and sweetness of the bell peppers is always a great choice to pair with classic southwest flavors, but this recipe is super versatile so feel free to choose any combo of veggies that you and your family like.
Corn: Fresh corn is extra delicious in this black bean quinoa salad but frozen defrosted corn kernels are also a great option (especially if you want to enjoy this when fresh corn isn’t as easy to find!).
Pumpkin seeds: I like the flavor and crunch that the toasted pumpkin seeds add to this dish. But sunflower seeds would also work in their place.
Cilantro: Fresh cilantro works best for this recipe and goes great with these other flavors. But if you don’t like cilantro, feel free to skip it or substitute in another fresh herb (like parsley).
Lime juice: The lime juice adds a nice brightness and tanginess to this easy healthy dressing. You could also use lemon juice in its place.
Cumin: Together with the lime juice and chili powder, the earthy flavor of the cumin creates the delicious vinaigrette for these bowls.
Mild chili powder: This recipe is not spicy. If you like it hot, swap the mild chili powder for hot, and top with your favorite hot sauce.
Honey: Honey and lime juice always make a great combination. But you can use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing to keep this recipe vegan-friendly.
Cayenne: The cayenne is optional in this recipe but I love it! If you like a little bit of heat and a spicier southwest flavor, then you might too. If you are sensitive to heat, feel free to omit it.
Olive oil: I love the light flavor of the olive oil in this cumin lime dressing. But you can also use any other neutral flavored oil in its place like avocado, vegetable or canola oil.
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
Tip: You can cook your quinoa in water and it’ll still come out fluffy & delicious. But for a boost of extra flavor, you can cook it in vegetable or chicken broth!
This Recipe Is…
Black Bean Quinoa Bowls
- 1½ cup quinoa
- 2 ¾ cups water, or vegetable / chicken stock
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 large bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), chopped
- 2 ears corn, kernels cut off (or sub 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted)
- ⅓ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup lime juice, from about 2-3 limes
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well. Place the rinsed quinoa in a pot with a tight-fitting lid along with the water (or vegetable / chicken stock). Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let stand for an additional 5 minutes.
- While the quinoa cooks make the dressing by whisking the lime juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and honey or maple syrup until well combined. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk again until well combined.
- In a large bowl add the warm quinoa and black beans and dressing. Allow to sit 5 minutes for the quinoa and black beans to absorb the dressing. Add cabbage, tomatoes, bell pepper, and corn, stirring to combine. Top with pumpkin seeds and cilantro, then serve warm or at room temperature.