Summer Quinoa Salad

Smokey Summer Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes

Summertime may be the time you have a lot of visitors, which means more fun… and more people to feed. To keep costs down and to maximize on fun and minimize time in the kitchen, I stock the fridge with fresh fruit and a variety simple salads so family and friends can help themselves anytime to something healthy and ready without any prep. We have a few salads that we really like that we keep going back to, but this is a new one I created so I’d love your feedback 🙂 This salad’s smokey flavor comes from the smoked paprika that the sweet potatoes are roasted in, and some chipotle pepper packed in adobe sauce in the dressing. I also seasoned it with my special (birthday) smoked sea salt from my sis, but that’s not necessary! Since they keep really well in the fridge, leftover whole grain salads like this one, also make great brown bag lunches throughout the week. To increase your vegetable to grain ratio, serve your salad over a bed of greens.

While we’ve been enjoying whole grains as a mainstay of our diet for many decades, it’s taken sometime for us to acquire a taste for quinoa. It hasn’t helped that all of the recipes I see for it use too much water to grain ratio for our liking. After finally figuring out how we like it cooked best, we persevered because it’s nutritional profile shows it as an amazing food! To see the complete write-up on quinoa’s health benefits go to and search for quinoa. To get you started, here’s a sneak peek about quinoa’s protein status :

Most grains are considered to be inadequate as total protein sources because they lack adequate amounts of the amino acids lysine and isoleucine. The relatively low level of both lysine and isoleucine in the protein of grains is what causes these amino acids to be considered as the limiting amino acids (LAAs) in grains. In other words, these LAAs prevent grains from serving as complete protein sources in our diet. By contrast, quinoa has significantly greater amounts of both lysine and isoleucine (especially lysine), and these greater amounts of lysine and isoleucine allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a complete protein source.”

They have much more useful info on this Whole Foods site…but for now, let’s get cooking! This quinoa salad has some of my favorite ingredients in it; avocado, sweet potatoes, and black beans.

Smokey Summer Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes (serves 6-8)Quinoa3 cups chicken, vegetable stock, or water

2 cups rinsed and drained yellow quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Sweet Potatoes

2 cups diced orange fleshed sweet potatoes (a.k.a. yams)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil


2 tablespoons minced red onion

2/3 cup finely chopped celery

1 can rinsed and drained black beans

1 cup corn kernels (I used Trader Joe’s frozen/thawed organic corn)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 large avocado, diced


1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 – 1 teaspoon pureed chipotle in adobe sauce (depending on how much heat you want)

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss diced sweet potatoes in olive oil, sea salt and smoked paprika. Roast in a single layer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until tender – crisp. Set aside.

While sweet potatoes are roasting, start the quinoa.

Bring stock or water to boil. To toast the quinoa, heat a medium saucepan, add olive oil and toast quinoa until it smells nutty and it turns a golden color. Be careful to stir constantly to prevent burning. Once the quinoa is toasted, add the boiling stock and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stand back because this could bubble quite turbulently, but it dies down right away. Or you may want to try: turn off the heat on the toasted quinoa before you add the boiling stock, add the stock, then turn the heat back on high to boil. Turn down flame, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Do not stir while it’s cooking. When 15 minutes is up, remove from stove and let sit covered for 10 – 20 minutes, again, without stirring. Flake cooked quinoa lightly with a fork. Set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, combine cooked, cooled quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, chopped celery, minced red onion, black beans, corn and cilantro.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and combine all ingredients. Plate salad on a platter and top with diced avocado and a sprig of cilantro.

Do you use quinoa? If so, how do you prepare it? I’d love to hear your ideas!

curly element

In other news….checkout this amazing piece of furniture my husband made me-

Our kitchen is my most used work space, but Jack built this beautiful desk and shelf (with built-in lighting) for an office work space for me. Love it!!

Thanks for visiting!


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AmySmokey Summer Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes

0 Comments on “Smokey Summer Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes”

  1. Lisa Damiano

    We are having family for a couple of weeks and I tell you the truth…I’m going to go for your recipes before I reach for any of my cookbooks! There are so many that I know will make everyone HaPpY and I’ll feel good about feeding (loving) them so well!

    Thanks Amy!

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