Kickin’ Quinoa Salad with Aji Amarillo Dressing


Going back to its roots, the main South American grain in this quinoa salad is paired with Latin ingredients, such as cilantro, lime, and the popular chili paste, aji amarillo. The end result is a boldly flavored, nutritious, plant-based lunch or side dish.

Kickin' Quinoa Salad with Aji Amarillo Dressing - a flavorful, nutritious, plant-based recipe for entertaining or everyday lunches. Vegan, gluten-free, allergy-friendly.This quinoa salad recipe with photo was shared with us by

This quinoa salad recipe was originally created by Manuel Villacorta, an award-winning registered dietitian, to offer a healthy twist to more traditional holiday menus. Honestly, I didn’t have enough time to post this quinoa salad for the holidays, but feel that it is an amazing lunch or side dish recipe for your year-round nutrition goals. It’s packed with satiating protein (in the quinoa, peas and beans), essential minerals, and filling fiber, and is even free of added sugars!

As noted, this quinoa salad is also a great make-ahead dish (if anything, the flavors develop further as it chills), perfect for evening or weekend prep. But note that the chili paste can be rather spicy. You may want to start with a lesser amount for timid taste buds.

Kickin' Quinoa Salad with Aji Amarillo Dressing - a flavorful, nutritious, plant-based recipe for entertaining or everyday lunches. Vegan, gluten-free, allergy-friendly.

Special Diet Notes: Kickin’ Quinoa Salad

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, vegetarian, and generally top allergy-friendly.

Kickin' Quinoa Salad with Aji Amarillo Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This dish may be prepared one day ahead, allowing the flavors time to meld - perfect for guest prep or for lunch boxes!
Serves: 10 servings
  • ¼ cup non-GMO canola oil (a neutral-tasting oil)
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste
  • 1 cup whole cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  1. For the quinoa, rinse the quinoa well under cool water in fine sieve for several changes of water. Drain well.
  2. In a large pot, boil the vegetable broth and quinoa over medium heat. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa is tender but still firm to bite, about 15 minutes. It’s done when germ separates, making it look like a curly. Drain well and return quinoa to pot off the heat. Cover with tea towel and replace lid, allowing it to steam and fluff as it cools.
  3. For the dressing, add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. For the salad, if using fresh peas, bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook about 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water to cool. If using frozen, skip this step.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, peas, beans, celery, red onion and dressing. Stir until dressing is distributed evenly and serve.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Aaron Friedman on

    Can you please specify whether the salt is table salt, Morton’s kosher salt, or Diamond Crystal kosher salt.

      • Aaron friedman on

        Since 2 parts kosher salt is the same as 1 part table salt, it’s always helpful to specify which one you’re referring to, even when salting to taste.

        • I don’t disagree, which is why I think starting with 1/2 teaspoon is best (to avoid over salting!). For my personal recipes, I typically use fine sea salt. Unfortunately, with some of the contributed recipes, I can’t say for sure which salt they used unless they specified it. I hope you get the chance to enjoy this recipe though and that the seasoning works out well for you!

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