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Overhead shot of Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad before tossing.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Smoky Pepitas and Roasted Jalapeño Lime Dressing

Texture, flavor and spice come together in this hearty, slightly spicy quinoa salad. Make-ahead for lunch on the ready or for a light yet hearty dinner. Versatile and packed with goodness. This recipe is vegan + gluten free.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Mexican, Southwest
Keyword Make Ahead Quinoa Salad, Mexican Quinoa Salad, Sweet Potato Salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 7 -8 Servings
Calories 464kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


For The Salad:

  • 4 C (510g) Sweet Potatoes peeled and diced in 1/2" (1.3cm) cubes
  • 1 1/2 Tbs + 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil divided; virgin, cold pressed, melted
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 3/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp Smoky Paprika divided
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin ground
  • 2 tsp + 1/8 tsp Fine Sea Salt divided
  • 1/2 C (70g) Pepitas
  • 1 C (195g) Quinoa rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 C (420g) Water
  • 15 oz (425g) Cooked Black Beans or 1 can, rinsed and drained
  • 4 C (140g) Baby Spinach chopped and packed
  • 1/2 C (45g) Green Onions sliced thin
  • 2 Avocados diced
  • Fist-full of Cilantro leaves chopped fine

For The Dressing:

  • 1 Jalapeño (2 to kick the spice up!)
  • 3 Limes juiced (about 1/4C+2Tbs or 70g)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • Fist-full of Cilantro leaves and stem
  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbs (81g) Olive Oil extra virgin


For The Salad:

  • Preheat oven to 425F (218C). Line a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Place the jalapeño (for the dressing) on the sheet pan. Toss the cubed potatoes with 1 1/2 Tbs oil. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 3/4 tsp salt over the top of the potatoes and stir well. Spread on prepared sheet pan with the jalapeño, in an even layer and bake for about 20-24 minutes or until fork tender. Turn the jalapeño once while roasting. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. Set the jalapeño aside to cool. 
  • Toss pepitas with 1/2 tsp coconut oil, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp paprika. Toast the pepitas in the same oven as the potatoes and jalapeño for about 6-7 minutes. They will be slightly golden and fragrant when ready. Set aside to cool.
  • While the potatoes, jalapeño and pepitas are roasting, cook the quinoa. In a small sauce pot, bring quinoa, water and salt to a boil, turn to low and simmer uncovered for 13-14 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, cover and let set for 5 minutes.  The quinoa is ready when tender and with its 'tails' showing. Drain off any remaining water. Place in refrigerator to cool while the rest of the salad is being prepared.

For The Dressing:

  • Slice the roasted jalapeño (see step 1 in "for the salad") in 1/2, lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In the bowl of a food processor, add the jalapeño, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and cilantro. With the processor on, pour in the olive oil. Process until smooth. 

To Assemble:

  • After the potatoes and quinoa have cooled, add them to a large mixing bowl along with the black beans, spinach, green onions, and pepitas. Drizzle 3/4 of the dressing over the salad and mix well. Taste to see if more dressing is desired and adjust as needed. Add a few twists of fresh ground pepper and adjust salt as needed. If time is available, dress the salad about an hour before service. The flavors will come together as it sets in the fridge.
  • Just before serving, stir in diced avocado and chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Store in the refrigerator, in a lidded container for up to three days. 


Calories: 464kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 859mg | Potassium: 1069mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 12743IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 5mg