Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad

9 Reviews / 5 Average
Adapted from Joy of Cooking, this Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad is the perfect addition to your summer meal plan. Everyone seems to love it every time I bring it to a potluck or BBQ, so it's a very versatile and well-loved dish. It's loaded with dried fruit, pine nuts, and bell peppers for tons of flavor.
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Quinoa from 100 Days of Real Food

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I used to think quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) was a rather strange ingredient. And I vowed to never post recipes on this blog that call for strange ingredients. But it seems as though quinoa is becoming more commonplace, and I am certain some of you have a bag of it sitting in your pantry and don’t know what to do with it. I admittedly let our first bag of quinoa just chill for about six months before I worked up enough courage to try something so unusual and different. It’s funny how new ingredients can do that to us.

Long story short quinoa is very similar to couscous. You can eat it plain or add all sorts of seasonings and other fresh flavors to it. And we happen to think this recipe below is a real crowd pleaser. It can be eaten as a side with your lunch or dinner or brought along as the perfect addition to a potluck gathering. We also brought this salad camping the other weekend, and it would work great at an outdoor cookout as well. Trust me – you can’t go wrong so just make it, and I promise it will be gone in no time!

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55 thoughts on “Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad”

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I just scanned the ingredients, so I didn’t realize it was supposed to be served cold. But because I omitted fruit and nuts, and used a can of rinsed/drained black beans instead, (I also added cumin to the dressing) this was a perfect last minute dinner.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Yes. :) That said, if it is medically important that you not have any gluten (Celiac), you always need to be certain that all ingredients are fully gluten free.

  2. 5 stars
    Loved this! Subbed black beans for the fruit, and used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts (pine nuts are too expensive).

  3. Made this yesterday for a Memorial Day get-together and it was a huge hit! Even the kids there ate, and liked, it! This recipe is a winner!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this last night (without mustard, which I didn’t have), and it is delicious! I love the interplay of tastes and textures…sweet, sour, nutty, chewy, crisp. Mmmm!

  5. Does anyone know where I get pine nuts not procured from China? I lose my sense of taste after eating them for about 2 weeks…which pretty common from what I’ve researched, particularly from Chinese pine nuts.

  6. What is a good main dish to serve with this quinoa salad? I’m looking for some kind of beef or pork marinade or main course this pairs well with. Thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    I love cilantro and lime, and all the other ingredients, so this was a definite hit with me. Thanks for the fun and different recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    I make quinoa all the time, it’s a huge favorite in our home. Instead of cooking it with water I usually substitute the liquid with either orange juice or chicken broth depending on what I’m putting into the salad.

  9. Glad I saw this recipe. I was trying to think of a recipe to make and take to a friend who is not well. This is perfect. Also making a cucumber tomato salad if I can find some good tomatoes at the Farmers Market on Saturday. Bring on the summer salads!

  10. This is SO good! I add some chickpeas to it to make it a complete lunch meal. I make a big batch of it on the weekend, and then I have lunch for several days. Yum!

  11. what a great recipe- so easy and fresh tasting! I have been craving it since I made it last week! And a pregnant friend I made it for said she got up in the middle of the night and ate every bite of the leftovers as her midnight snack :) SO yummy, thanks for the great recipe! making it again right now

  12. Just wanted to tell you how much I love this recipe! I loved it last summer and just pulled it out to start making again now that the weather is warming up (love to take grain salads to work for lunch when it’s warm outside!). I use red quinoa b/c it’s what I had on hand the first time – makes a pretty salad! :)

  13. I recently made this and it was kind of bitter. I didn’t know about rinsing the quinoa before cooking it. I should have read the comments first. I’ll have to try it again.

  14. Thank you for every other magnificent article. Where else may just anybody get that type of info in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the look for such information.

  15. I made quinoa the other day and my husband didnt like it. I made THIS one tonight and he couldnt stop eating it. Another great one!!!

  16. I just made this a few nights ago and it was fantastic! Even better than I thought it would be. I love Quinoa but I thought the dried fruit with lime was a weird combo – it was NOT! Loved it! Very simple and quick too.

    Had it with salmon burgers – perfect summer dinner…

    Thanks Lisa!

  17. this looks yummy – it’s on my list to try – would love to see a “print friendly” button added for ease of printing ;-)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I’ve added “print friendly button” to my to-do list…hopefully I can figure it out! Thanks for the suggestion.

  18. Yes, this is great. I forgot the pine nuts when I was shopping, so I made it without them and it was still really good – and even better the next day. :)

  19. This is the 1st quinoa recipe I’ve made that I really like. It is delicious. I thought the dried fruit would be wierd, but it is really a nice touch.

  20. I just want to point out that while quinoa and couscous have a similar consistency and are both tasty and great for a variety of salads, couscous is usually a processed wheat product while quinoa is a whole grain. Their “nutrition information” is therefore quite different. You could certainly use them in the same recipes, but quinoa would certainly be recommended in a whole foods/real food diet while couscous might not make the cut.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      FYI – They do make whole-wheat couscous, but you are right if it doesn’t say that on the package then it is not whole grain!

  21. Great recipe! Always have wanted to give quinoa a try. This blog is a great way to encourage people to eat “real food”. Have you had any restaurants pick up recipes from your blog or have you inspired them to change some of their menu items that you’ve heard?

  22. Lisa, I recently found you via Fed Up With Lunch. Your site is phenomenal! I’ve read Michael Pollan’s books (except Botany of Desire which I have on deck for reading this summer) but nothing compares to seeing his recommendations in action. A thousand thank yous for sharing all this incredibly useful info! Your quinoa salad recipe looks very appealing and I bought a bag of quinoa for the first time last week so I think it’s a sign that I have to make it ;o)

    1. Shannon Baukhages

      Sarah, cook it just like you would white rice, using the same 1:1 ratio. Just be sure to rinse the quinoa before you cook it, as it is naturally coated with saponin ( a self produced insecticide) and will be bitter tasting if you don’t.

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      The directions on my bag say 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover for 15 – 20 minutes. Just like rice!

    3. I usually rinse 1 cup quinoa in a sieve then use 1 and 3/4 cup of water. Add quinoa, bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Always comes out perfect. My favorite is to add the quinoa to red onion, chopped cranberries, walnuts, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt/pepper.

  23. Maggie Sanders

    I was fortunate enough to get to sample this yummy salad while camping! It was great not only the first time but the 2nd and 3rd as a side for our other meals. Some leftovers aren’t that great but this one is a keeper.

  24. I’m a big quinoa fan. I love to make cold quinoa salads this time of year. My favorite recipe is from the Passionate Vegetarian and includes fresh raw corn, buckwheat noddles, quinoa and a ginger dressing. It’s to die for.
    I also good warm or used to make patties. Do you also know that it’s considered the mother grain by the peole of the Andes? It’s high in protein and contains I believe most of the amino acids. A close cousin but smaller in size is Amaranth.
    One important rule with quinoa is to always rince it. It contains a natural “insecticide”: saponin, so the best is to put it in a mesh strainer and rince it under the water before cooking it.

  25. I can relate to letting a bag of quinoa sit for awhile! I have a bag of mixed color (black, white, and brown) that I bought about 2 months ago and it’s been sitting on my counter staring begging to be cooked. But now, I have a the perfect summer recipe to try thanks to you. I might even have enough time to make it for today’s cookout.

    1. The salad was a HUGE hit at yesterday’s cookout. Everyone loved it! I’ll be making it again next weekend for a girl’s beach weekend but will be tweaking it a little. Maybe use a yellow pepper instead of green one and add some grape tomatoes cut in half to give it a little more color.
      Thanks for sharing such a fabulous recipe with us.