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This Black Bean and Zucchini Quinoa Salad recipe can be served as a cold salad or heated up. It’s perfect as a side dish, a main course at lunch, or a potluck dish and offers something a little different than your average salad. Plus it’s ready in 30 minutes. Win!

black bean, zucchini and quinoa salad

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How do you keep quinoa from tasting like dirt?

The base to this salad is quinoa. I can hear the groans from here. Followed by protests of “quinoa’s boring”, “quinoa’s weird”, “quinoa tastes like dirt.” It doesn’t have to be any of those things. Okay, I can’t totally fix “quinoa’s weird” because it is kind of weird when you inspect it and the texture is kinda funny too.

I use quinoa in dishes that will have rich or bold flavors as it takes on those flavors. My favorite flavors to pair with quinoa are citrus like lemon or lime and recipes with tangy vinegars in them. Boom! Quinoa’s no longer boring. It no longer tastes like dirt either.

My other secret to quinoa? I like to use white quinoa because the tri-colored, red, or black quinoa, well, that’s definitely harder to make taste less like dirt.

Bring on those black beans!

I’m a huge fan of cooking my own black beans because it’s so easy to make black beans in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, but when you just need to throw a meal together in a hurry, canned black beans all the way. And I say yes to canned black beans in this quinoa salad recipe because it’s a classic “throw together in a hurry” kind of meal or side.

Who likes zucchini?

Over the last few years we’ve started using more and more zucchini. From grilled zucchini to chopping it up in soups and salads, it’s become a favorite veggie to bolster up a dish as long as it’s not served plain. Sauteing it with red onion and adding lime is definitely the way to go here.

Add the onion.

You are free to use yellow, white, or red onions. I just happen to prefer red onions here. They’re better. Plus, red onions just go with lime, cilantro, and feta. It’s a fact.

Punch all the plain ingredients with some flavor!

Squeeze in some lime. “Chop in” some cilantro. Sprinkle on the feta. A dash of salt. A few grinds of the black pepper mill. Done. Just like that. You’ve taken a boring quinoa salad recipe and given it pizzazz. Plus, if you really want to skip the feta you’ve got a vegan salad that’s anything but boring. Just.Like.That. Just add a little extra salt and maybe another squeeze of lime to compensate.


Black Bean and Zucchini Quinoa Salad

Black Bean and Zucchini Quinoa Salad can be served as a cold salad or heated up. It’s perfect as a side dish, a main course at lunch, or a potluck dish and offers something a little different than your average salad recipe. Plus it’s ready in 30 minutes.

  • Author: Heather L McCurdy
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2 (15/16 oz. cans) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TBS. oil
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini (approx. 34 cups, diced)
  • 1 small red onion (11 and 1/2 cups, diced)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (approx. 1/4 cup rough chopped)
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tsp. salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 56 oz. feta


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in medium-large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Dice onion and add to skillet. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Dice zucchini to approximately 1/4 inch cubes.
  5. Once onion is slightly softened, add zucchini, salt, and pepper to skillet and turn burner up to medium/high.
  6. Once quinoa is done cooking per directions, transfer to a bowl and toss with black beans.
  7. Roughly chop cilantro and add to onions and zucchini when zucchini is mostly soft.
  8. Stir vegetable mixture complete with any cooking liquid into the quinoa and beans.
  9. Squeeze in juice from one lime and stir.
  10. Stir in the feta.
  11. Taste. Add the juice from another 1/2-1 whole lime as desired. Add a little more salt as needed, but use a light hand as the feta adds saltiness to the dish.

Do you have a favorite quinoa salad recipe? Share it with us in the comments. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!

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