A few weeks back John and I went to my sister’s house for dinner. We can all agree on Mexican food, so taco salads it was.
Salsa and sour cream are obvious toppings for traditional taco salads, but for something dairy-free I went with a creamy cilantro-lime dressing that I made up on the spot. It was so good I was inspired to make this recipe and douse it in the stuff. Green gold, I call it.
If you’re in the market for a satisfying vegan and gluten free appetizer or entree, this is the recipe for you.
The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes and is made with some seriously healthy eats:
Spiced, Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Dark Leafy Lettuce
& Olive Oil
While your sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, whip up your dressing!
It requires just 6 ingredients and is SO creamy and flavorful. Avocado provides plenty of healthy fat, fiber and a little protein, and makes the texture super creamy. Flavor comes from sea salt, lime juice, cumin, agave and cilantro. Olive oil adds more healthy fat and a velvety finish.
This stuff is so dang good, and it makes about 1 cup worth! So keep leftovers in a jar for other salads and Mexican dishes throughout the week.
Next comes assembly! Simply arrange your lettuce on a plate and top with quinoa, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and a bit of the cilantro-lime dressing.
John and I split these for lunch and polished the plate!
They’re so light, flavorful and healthy, yet entirely satisfying. If you have vegan or vegetarian friends, they’ll definitely love you for making these. But I think they’re filling enough to please even hearty meat eaters.
If you give them a shot, let me know! Take a photo and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram. I’d love to see! Cheers.
Mexican Quinoa Salad Cups with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
For the Salad Cups:
- 2 small heads artisan lettuce (any variety that will form cups/wraps nicely – or sub corn tortillas)
- 1 15-ounce can unsalted black beans (note: If your beans are salted, omit additional sea salt)
- 1 large sweet potato (scrubbed, rinsed and cubed)
- ~1/2 tsp each cumin, cinnamon, and sea salt (divided)
- 3/4 cup dry white or red quinoa (rinsed in a fine mesh strainer)
- Olive oil
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 small ripe avocado
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2-3 small limes, juiced
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive or avocado oil
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt and cumin
- 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice (such as cane sugar or honey if not vegan)
- Water (to thin)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and prep sweet potatoes. Toss in a drizzle of olive oil and 1/4 tsp each cumin, cinnamon and sea salt (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly golden brown.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place in a small saucepan over medium-high heat to toast. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes and then add 1 1/2 cups water and stir (amount as original recipe is written // use a 1:2 ratio quinoa:water if altering batch size). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender and the water is fully absorbed. Turn off heat and set aside.
- In a separate saucepan, bring black beans to a simmer over medium heat and season with 1/4 tsp each sea salt, cumin and cinnamon (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). If your black beans are already salted, omit additional salt. Once bubbly and warm, turn heat to simmer/low.
- Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients (starting with 2 small or 1 large lime(s) as the original recipe is written) besides water to a blender and blending. Add water to thin and scrape down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime, salt, cumin or sweetener as desired. Transfer to serving dish. You will have leftovers, which store well in a covered container in the fridge for up to several days.
- Rinse and dry lettuce (or sub corn or flour tortillas) and choose the pieces that are a good “cup” shape to fill with toppings.
- Arrange on a serving plate and top with quinoa, black beans and sweet potatoes. You might have leftover toppings depending on how many salad cups you prepare. Leftovers keep well.
- Serve with dressing and any additional desired toppings, such as cilantro, salsa, chips or sliced jalapeno.
*Note: this is not a traditional Mexican dish, but is inspired by ingredients and flavors common in Mexican cuisine, such as black beans, cumin, avocado, lime, and salsa.
*You will have leftover dressing.