Today’s Quinoa Taco Salad recipe is one that’s been on my ever-growing “must-share” list since last Spring. I may have gotten a little distracted by n’ice cream and sparkling peach cocktails these last few months (oops!), but Aaron and I have been enjoying variations of these vegan taco salad bowls on repeat all the while because they just never get old.
The base is made of protein-packed red quinoa and black beans, plus some fresh pico de gallo that I always add to our weekly Terra’s Kitchen meal kit deliveries. If you’re not familiar with pico de gallo (aka salsa fresca), it has chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, and jalapeños, and it’s seasoned with sea salt and lime juice. It’s a great way to add more flavor to your usual grain and bean bowls.
Because the pico de gallo is light and spicy, I like to balance it with a richer, creamy dressing. My go-to is a simple 4-ingredient recipe that I make in my blender from cashews, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and lime. I usually just toss in a raw clove of garlic to keep it extra easy, but if you’d prefer a more mellow flavor, you can slice your garlic and give it a quick sauté in some olive oil before blending.
Feel free to assemble your quinoa taco salad however you like—we add sliced romaine, avocado, and scallions, plus a handful of chopped cilantro (extra cilantro for me)—but whatever you do, don’t skip the crispy baked tortilla strips! They are too good. In fact, you may even want to make a double batch of them because if you’re anything like Aaron and me, half of your tortilla strips won’t even make it past the baking sheet.
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup filtered water
- 1 medium clove garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 corn tortillas, thinly sliced
- 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
- 2 cups cooked red quinoa, seasoned with sea salt & pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup prepared pico de gallo
- 1 avocado, pitted and diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced
- lime wedges, for serving
- Make the Garlicky Cashew Cream dressing: In a high speed blender, blend all of the ingredients until very smooth. Chill until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla strips with a small pour of olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
- Assemble the taco salad: In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa, black beans, and pico de gallo. Divide the quinoa mixture, romaine, avocado, and tortillas strips between four bowls. Top with cilantro, scallions, and drizzle with Garlicky Cashew Cream dressing. Serve with lime wedges.
If you'd prefer a more mellow garlic flavor in your dressing, slice the clove of garlic and cook it in a little olive oil until golden before blending it with the other ingredients.
The dressing recipe makes a little extra. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge to use on more grain and bean bowls, tacos, or use it as a dip for raw veggies.
Thank you to Terra’s Kitchen for sponsoring this post! We love their wholesome, 30 minute (or less!), plant-based meal kits, plus their option to add salads, smoothies, and pre-prepped fruit and vegetable sides to your order. You can read our full review of their meal-kit delivery service here, and enter PICKLES at checkout to take $35 off your first order!