Quinoa and Corn Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) has an impressive protein profile. It contains amino acids not normally found in grains, and it cooks in 15 minutes. In this salad inspired by the flavors of Latin America, the mild, nutty flavor of quinoa combines with pumpkin seeds, red peppers, jalapeno, tomato, and avocado to make a flavorful, filling meal.

  • Servings: 4

Photography: James Wojcik

Source: Body+Soul, July/August 2005


  • Sea salt

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspooon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Salad and Protein

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained (about 4 cups cooked)
  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 1 medium red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium head red-leaf lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried, small inner leaves reserved for future use
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes, cored and cut in thin wedges
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted


  1. Bring 2 3/4 cups water to boil in a small saucepan and stir in the quinoa and some salt. Return to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, place corn kernels on top of quinoa, cover pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir corn into quinoa, remove from pan, and spread out on baking sheet to cool for about 20 minutes.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oil, and salt to taste; set aside.

  3. Place cooled quinoa and corn, red pepper, cucumber, scallions, jalapeno, and cilantro in large bowl. Add 1/2 cup dressing (or more to taste) and salt to taste; mix until combined.

  4. Place large lettuce leaves side by side in a circle around a large serving platter so the curly tops extend just beyond the platter rim. Mound quinoa salad in center.

  5. Arrange tomato, avocado, and lime around quinoa on top of leaves. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over salad. Serve immediately or hold briefly at room temperature.

Cook's Notes

If the salad is made ahead of time, let it come to room temperature before serving; perk up its flavor with additional lemon juice if needed.


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