Spicy Kale and Quinoa Salad with Sweet Corn, Avocado, and Black Beans

By on June 8, 2013
Spicy Kale and Quinoa Salad with Sweet Corn, Black Beans, and Avocado - CaliCooking.com

This might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Ok maybe besides cookie dough ice cream and sushi… It might sound crazy, but this has to be one of my top 3 favorite meals. And you guessed it, it’s healthy too! I see you rolling your eyes at me thinking “That b**** be crazy.” Hey Ms. Judgy (or Mr. Judgy if you’re the one dude that reads my blog…my dear brother!) just suck it up and make this. And be amazed. This isn’t a typical “salad” with buckets of that iceberg lettuce crap, it’s more of a pasta salad with a good mix of grains and kale. And who doesn’t like pasta salad? I call it a salad because it’s served cold, not warm…that’s how it works, right?

This recipe is great for those of us that want to get a high protein fiber rich meal. Great for all the vegetarians in the house. Quinoa, black beans, and kale are all excellent sources of protein and fiber, not to mention other essential vitamins & minerals like iron, vitamin K, and calcium. This recipe is also easy and relatively quick to make, it takes about 35 min, 20 min of that is waiting for the quinoa to cool then a few minutes waiting for the whole salad to cool in the fridge.

If you don’t like kale, I beg you to try this. You won’t taste the kale but it adds a nice crunch for texture. If you don’t like quinoa, I beg you to try this. It soaks up the dressing flavors so well. If you don’t like black beans and avocado, I beg you to try this. They make this salad so creamy. If you don’t like sweet corn, well you have more problems than I can solve with this salad.

And if you try this recipe and still don’t like kale (not likely), try this smoothie recipe where you can eat your veggies but not taste them!

Interesting facts about kale: Did you know that kale has more iron per calorie than beef!? Many people have an iron deficiency and don’t even realize it– maybe you’re tired often, have cold hands/feet, get headaches frequently, feel light headed, have brittle nails? These are all symptoms of an iron deficiency. Iron is essential for good health because it transports oxygen to various parts of the body, aids in cell growth, keeps the liver functioning properly, and more. Maybe it’s time you start eating less red meat and eating more kale! Read more about the benefits of kale here.

spicy kale and quinoa salad2

I added chicken to this one!

What You’ll Need:

1 cup dry quinoa

About 2.5 -3 cups of delightfully curly kale leaves

1 can black beans

1.5 cup frozen sweet corn

1 avocado chopped

1/2 cup thinly chopped red onion (optional)


1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (unless you really hate cilantro…like my mom)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup cholula hot sauce (chili lime flavor works well!)

1 tsp sriracha sauce (or more if you want it even spicier)

1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper powder (use more or less to add/lessen spice)

3/4 tbsp dried chili flakes (spicy, yum!)

1 large minced garlic clove

1 heaping tsp honey (helps the flavors really come together)

pinch of cumin, salt, pepper to taste

This dressing sounds hard to do because it has so many ingredients…but the hardest part is just stocking your fridge/pantry with  some of these things. Once that’s done you can make this many times really easily!

This makes about 5-6 servings and it makes great leftovers!

What You’ll Do:

Cook the quinoa according to instructions.

While quinoa is cooking, prepare the kale. Tear the green leaves off the thick spines and chop those leaves finely (I chop it into realllyyy small pieces so it blends better with everything). Place into a bowl and massage a teaspoon of olive oil into it for about a minute. Add the can of rinsed black beans, the corn, chopped onions, and the chopped avocado then mix well.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together well.

When the quinoa is done, spread it out on a plate and let cool in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Then add the quinoa to the other ingredients and mix. Add the dressing and mix really well for a minute or 2. Let it sit in the fridge for another 5 minutes then serve.

2 notes: I love putting this salad in a whole wheat tortilla and eating it like a burrito…so good! It’s also great with some taco seasoned chicken chopped up in it (like in the pic above, which I made another time).

So that’s all, enjoy! I promise it’s delicious!


  1. jen

    July 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    this was really, really good and i make hearty kale salads all the time. next time i will use all the spice you recommend.

    • AliDaniel

      October 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks Jen! I’ve learned to love a lot of spice the more I cook with it :)

  2. FMcDermott

    September 5, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Heather made this for Bunco night at our house. It was so good and several people wanted the recipe.

    • AliDaniel

      September 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Aw, awesome! Well, now they know where to find it! :)
      thanks for sharing aunt frankie!

  3. Clint

    August 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    My friend and I made this over the weekend and were blown away by how good it is. The spicyness is PERFECT, not enough to hurt but actually adds to to the flavor. Thanks for sharing!

    • alidaniel

      August 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Clint! The spicyness definitely leaves a good afterburn! I’m glad I’m not the only one loving this recipe! :)

  4. C. Daniels

    July 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    SOOOO good. Thank you!!!

    • alidaniel

      July 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! It’s been one of my favorites to make for family & friends :)

  5. Stephanie

    June 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Oh my gosh…just made this for dinner and it was fabulous. Super easy, but crazy delicious. Thanks!

    • alidaniel

      June 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      I’m glad you liked it! It’s been a hit with my friends and family so far too =]

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. mittsandmeasures

    June 19, 2013 at 5:58 am

    This looks sooo good…. I want that salad wrap now! I’ve got it bookmarked. :) Thanks for the great recipe!

    • alidaniel

      June 19, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy it! It’s great for a hot summer day =]
      Let me know what you think when you make it!

  7. L. Daniel

    June 17, 2013 at 8:36 am

    we made this recipe last weekend. It was fantastic! I highly recommend it. So flavorful!!!

    thank you

Share your thoughts below!