What is quinoa?

Did you know that Jan. 16 is National Quinoa Day? That’s right, there’s a whole day dedicated to celebrating all things quinoa, but what is it? According to Reatna Taylor, the Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Program Manager at Camino Vida, quinoa is an excellent source of whole grain. Prior to colonization, quinoa was a staple crop in Incan culture and the respective regions of Latin America. After colonization, the crops were widely displaced. Since it was popular among indigenous people, quinoa was once thought of as a poor grain, but there has been a resurgence in popularity in recent times because of the health benefits. In fact, quinoa is now referred to as a “superfood” and is desired by many people who prioritize healthy eating habits. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, quinoa is associated with better blood sugar control, lower cancer risks, and better digestive health. It is often used as a substitute for rice, and it is an excellent gluten-free food source. If you have been looking for a healthy meal that incorporates quinoa, you have come to the right place. Continue reading to learn how to make a Mexican Quinoa Salad.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Dish Name: Mexican Quinoa Salad

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 1 hr 15 min

Total Time: 1 hr 25 min


For Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water, or vegetable stock
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15oz) can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ medium red onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese

For Dressing

  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)


1. Add quinoa and water or stock to a medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the quinoa absorbs all the water and is fully cooked.

2. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to cool.

3. While the quinoa is cooling, make the dressing. Add all ingredients to a small bowl or mason jar, and whisk or shake together to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. When the quinoa has cooled, add the black beans, yellow corn, grape tomatoes, red onion, and crumbled cotija cheese to the bowl.

5. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt, if necessary.

6. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Disclaimer: This recipe was pulled from Isabel Eats.