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Chilled Quinoa and Kale Salad With Tomatoes, Peppers, Cilantro, and Tahini Lime Dressing

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Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been enjoying cooking and experimenting in the kitchen for over 15 years.


A Whimsical Creation

This amazing salad was actually created out of necessity. I went to visit a friend and found that she had a lot of ingredients, but the poor thing lacked the motivation and ideas of what to do with them. Being the sweet and spontaneous cook that I am, I decided to help a girl out and make her some yummies.

I remembered making a chilled quinoa salad at a restaurant I worked at around five years ago, so when I saw that she had quinoa, I knew I had to build upon that. I raided her fridge and found so much great produce to choose from. I was ecstatic!

I thought the peppers would provide a lovely crunch, the tomatoes would add just a hint of sweetness, and then decided that we were headed in a Mexican sort of direction—and it just blossomed from there.

My friend didn't want the tahini, and I still don't think it's necessary in this recipe. However, I like the creaminess that it adds, as well as that slight cheesy sort of flavor. To me it feels more hearty, and I think that's nice for colder times of year, but perhaps in spring or summer, it would be much nicer to leave out the tahini for a more refreshingly citrusy bite.


Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

20 min

25 min

4 cups


For the Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water/vegetable broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 leaves curly kale, shredded
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, medium dice
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Add the water, salt, cumin, and garlic powder to a pot and bring to a boil. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer and add to the boiling water. Return to the boil, replace the lid, and reduce to low heat. Allow to simmer while preparing the salad. This should take about 15–20 minutes.
  2. Shred the kale and add to a medium bowl along with the lemon juice. Massage the kale for 1 minute. Set aside for 5 minutes and then rinse the kale. Squeeze out all the excess liquid, and return to the bowl.
  3. Dice the yellow bell pepper, tomato, and jalapeño and finely chop the cilantro. Add these to the bowl along with the kale.
  4. At this point, the quinoa should be finished cooking. Remove it from the heat and take off the lid. Give it a few stirs here and there and allow it to come to room temperature BEFORE adding to the salad.
  5. Juice the limes into the bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except for the quinoa. Toss everything together and allow the tahini dressing to fully coat all the vegetables. Once cooled, add the quinoa and give everything a final toss. Enjoy!

Note About the Tahini

The tahini is completely optional in this salad. I enjoy the creaminess that it lends, because to me, it makes it more hearty. However, if you'd like a fresher tasting salad, skip the tahini altogether and perhaps lower the amount of lime you use. You may only need two limes for this recipe, so taste test as you go.

© 2019 Melanie