Mexican Quinoa Salad Cups With Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing

John and I had dinner at my sister’s place a few weeks ago. Mexican food is a common choice, so we decided to have taco salads.

For traditional taco salads, sour cream and salsa are the obvious toppings. But, I chose a creamy dressing made with cilantro and lime that I created on the spot for something dairy-free. The dressing was so delicious that I decided to use it as a base for a recipe. Green gold is what I call it.

This recipe is so creamy and delicious and only requires six ingredients. Avocados are a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and protein. They also make the texture creamy. The flavors come from cumin, cilantro, lime juice, and sea salt. Olive oil is a healthy fat that adds a velvety texture and more health benefits.

It makes about a cup! Keep leftovers in a glass jar to use for salads or Mexican dishes during the week.

These are so healthy and delicious, but also light. These will be a hit with your vegan and vegetarian friends. They’re also filling enough for meat eaters.


For the Salad Cups :

  • Two small heads of artisan lettuce (any type that forms cups/wraps well – or substitute corn tortillas).
  • One 15-ounce can of black beans, unsalted (note: if your beans are already salted, do not add additional sea salt).
  • One large sweet potato (scrubbed and rinsed, then cubed).
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, cinnamon, and sea salt
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, either white or red (rinsed through a fine-mesh strainer).
  • Olive oil


  • Half a small avocado
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice 2 or 3 small limes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive or avocado oil
  • Use 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and sea salt
  • Sweetener of your choice (cane sugar, honey, or maple syrup if you are not vegan).
  • Water (to thin)

Other Options for Topping:

  • Hot Sauce
  • Salsa
  • Jalapeno slices


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (204 C). Prepare sweet potatoes. Add a drizzle of olive oil, 1/4 tsp cumin and cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. (Amounts are as written in the original recipe // adjust for changes to batch size). Bake for 20-25 mins or until slightly golden and tender.
  • Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add 1 1/2 cups water. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add 1 1/2 cups of water. (The amount is as written in the original recipe. Use a 2:1 ratio of quinoa to water if you are changing the batch size.) Bring to a simmer and then cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and put aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat black beans over medium-low and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt, cinnamon, and cumin (amounts are as written in the original recipe // adjust for changes to batch size). If your black beans are already salted, then you can skip the additional salt. Once the beans are bubbling and hot, reduce the heat to low or simmer.
  • Add all ingredients except water to a Blender and blend. Add water as necessary to thin. Scrape the sides of the blender if needed. Add more salt, lime, cumin, or sugar as desired. Transfer to a serving dish. The leftovers will be kept well in the refrigerator in a covered container for several days.
  • Wash and dry the lettuce (or substitute corn or flour tortillas), and select pieces with a “cup” shape that will be filled with toppings.
  • Place on a plate, and then top with the quinoa and black beans. You may have some leftover toppings, depending on how many cups of salad you make. Leftovers are good for a long time.
  • Add any desired toppings such as chips, chopped jalapeno, cilantro, salsa, or salsa.

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