Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad

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Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad – YES PLEASE.

Hoooooray! We all survived the holidays. Phew! I had an absolutely smashing time in Connecticut with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and my 9 month old nephew, who had us all in stiches dying laughing as he played with his new gifts. Being the nice Auntie that I am, Santa L brought him a sit-to-stand “bike” that had a dashboard with crazy car sounds and flashing lights. He loved it and spent Christmas Day bouncing away shrieking along with the car noises, all while holding the horn down a la a miniature Masshole-in-training. I couldn’t be prouder of my adorable little nephew (and of course, he is the most intelligent, advanced and cutest baby in the universe – I’m not biased at all). I know that my sister may want to shank me by New Year’s Day because of the level of crazy this toy brings out in her son, but at least I have a chance to dodge her from all the Stop Drop and Roll Burpees I’ve done in bootcamp recently. All in all, a fabulous time.

HOWEVER, I am going to Florida in two weeks (yay!) and I am feeling a *little* fluffy, probably due to the 35 Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies I ate, along with the 12 Vegan Ginger Molasses cookies, a monstrous slice of Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie and the 7 Apricot-Date Amazeballs (also, if you haven’t yet, check out my updated vegan cookie recipes – I’ve included pics from when I made them over Christmas. You’ll be able to enjoy my sister and bro-in-law’s 1970’s time capsule kitchen that is probably getting demo’ed as you read this). You may think I’m just exaggerating the amount of sweets I consumed, but I swear on Chanel I am not. I enjoyed each and every one of those amazing cookies but cannot look at a sweet treat for a long time, as I’ve fulfilled my quota for a while. So today’s name of the game is “Let’s get back on track!” – time for some healthy, flavorful and nutrient dense meals.

Usually, tofu is the veg protein All-Star and soaks up its fair share of the lime light in the vegan/vegetarian scene, but in reality tempeh is The Boss, the dominating nutrient-packed overachiever (think Rihanna and Beyonce – Queen Bey is clearly on top, but RiRi is pretty much right up there). It’s made from whole soybeans, less processed than tofu, and has more protein and fiber per gram. If you’re a little wary of tofu’s weird-looking cousin, this is the perf recipe to try it out for the first time! This quinoa and tempeh salad is full of flavor, filling, and super nutritious – also packed with protein and carbs to support my semi-pathetic runs up and down the hills in CT (compared to where J & R live, Boston is a pancake). I actually made this recipe the week before Christmas and brought the leftovers with me and ate it over some baby spinach for a few lunches while I was at my sister’s. This dish is a super easy, one pot-esque (ok, to be fair it also involves one large saute pan too), and full of zesty and fresh flavor. It’s also a “bursting with nutrients” winner: it has about 10 grams of fiber, 17 grams of protein and only 350 calories per serving! Yes! Fear not the tempeh, because it f***in RULES (and it woke up like this). πŸ˜€

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All the ingredients for Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh: salsa, black beans, quinoa, frozen corn, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, tempeh, limes, cumin, and cayenne. YUM.

Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad


1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 (8-oz.) package tempeh, diced into bite-size pieces
1 cup hot to medium salsa
Juice from two limes
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh corn (or frozen)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, and fresh cilantro to taste
1 avocado, diced

*If you’re not into avocados, you can substitute a steamed/baked sweet potato, diced for a similar texture but different flavor πŸ™‚


Step One: Place water into a medium saucepan on high heat. Once it starts to boil, add the quinoa, reduce to simmer and cook for 12 minutes on low heat, and allow to sit for five. (I’ve found a pretty large variety in quinoa cooking directions, so just follow whatever yours says on the package. Make sure the quinoa to liquid ratio is correct too. You can substitute broth for more flavor if you’d like).
Step Two: While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Place the tomatoes, corn and beans into a large bowl. Chop and prep the tempeh, pepper and onion. I find it super helpful and makes my cooking flow if I prep all the veggies first before I start sauteeing. Do whatever feels right to you. πŸ˜€
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First things first, I usually dump the easy, low maintenance ingredients right into the serving bowl first. It helps get it out of the way. Just throw the corn, beans right into the bowl and slice those tomatoes in half (or not, if you’re short on time!). Easy peasey.

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Next, prep your veggies that are going to be sauteed with the tempeh. Dice into bite-sized pieces.

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I chopped the block of tempeh into bite sized pieces and set aside while I sauteed the onion.

Step Three: Heat the oil in a large saute pan on medium heat, and add the chopped onion. Cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
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The name of the game is multi-tasking. While your quinoa is simmering away, saute the onion until translucent.

Step Four: Add the diced red pepper, tempeh, salsa, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
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Add the salsa, tempeh, red pepper and spices. Saute for about 15 minutes.

Step Five: Cook the tempeh mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
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Most of the liquid from the salsa should be reduced and your tempeh should be beautifully coated with the spices and salsa. Your kitchen should smell like Mexico. πŸ˜€ Mmmmmm!!

Step Six: Once the quinoa and tempeh are cooked, pour both into a large bowl containing the beans, corn and tomatoes and mix together. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
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When your quinoa is ready, dump right on top of your veggies in the bowl.

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Add the tempeh mixture, and dress the salad with the lime juice. Sprinkle cilantro and add salt and pepper to taste. Give that baby a good stir.

Step Seven: Serve and top with a few pieces of diced avocado or sweet potato based on your preference. Enjoy as is, or use as a f-in awesome filling for tacos/burritos, or a serve as a salad over greens with an extra squeeze of lime.
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The finished product, with avocado. Yummmmmmmmmm.

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I threw half of a baked sweet potato right on there. It added a nice sweetness to offset the spiciness of the salad and was DAMN GOOD.

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You can dice a whole sweet potato and add it right in the salad as well. YUM!

This is one of my favorite dishes that I make. It’s so simple, but really packs a lot in there – both nutritionally and flavor-wise. YUM! You can adjust the level of spice to taste as well – I like it VERY spicy, so I cook mine with hot salsa and a few extra shakes of cayenne pepper. The spiciness is completely up to what you’re down for. πŸ˜€ It’s a great way to kick off your healthy goals for 2015. It’s never too early to start getting back on track and healthy for the New Year (or if you’re afraid to try on your bikini right now for your Florida trip in less than two weeks). I hope you all had a FANTASTIC holiday, and I can’t wait to keep up all this healthy amazingness in 2015! YES!

With warmth,


xoxoxox ❀

19 thoughts on “Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad

  1. Such a glorious post! I find myself in Mexico this very minute, so this is such a well timed recipe! Definitely going to be living off Quinoa during the New Year, as I am also feeling a little “fluffy” (perfect lil’ phrase, btw). I’m pretty sure I’m 90% Nut Roast and Mulled Wine right now.. Looking forward to making this after the holiday decadence is over! As for ‘I swear to Chanel’, I’m going to be taking that into 2015 with me and spreading the sa$$ and joy as far as the eye can see. Such a good read! Happy New Year πŸ™‚


    • Um, I would love to teleport to Mexico right now, because it’s 28F (-2C) in Boston right now – brrrrr!! Hahaha, I am also comprised of 90% sweets as well! I hope you do take the “I swear to Chanel” with you and spread the love! I’m digging it!! Happy New Year to you too, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll shortly me moving to the big, bad world of NYC for 6 months, so I’m enjoying the sunshine while it lasts! My delicate English rose constitution is not used to such weather extremities!


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  3. Great minds think alike. I made this same recipe minus the quinoa several months ago, showing friends how easy it is to make a great tasting tempeh menu. And when I go to my potlucks I make something similar either with quinoa or soba noddles, etc. Anyway, would love to hear from you. We are the tempeh pioneers producing Betsy’s Tempeh in Mich. for 9 1/2 years back in the mid 80’s. We developed a new process for making tempeh on stainless steel trays and sold our tempeh in both patty and grated form which our customers loved.
    We recently filed a patent for a tempeh incubator that should be on the market sometime in early 2015. It would be perfects for restaurants or small shops making artisan tempeh for the local markets.
    So keep in touch and take an occasional glance at our website showing our easy method for making tempeh at
    Happy eating
    betsy shipley


  4. I am actually laughing out loud about the toy you brought your nephew! You made his day! I have very vivid memories of fingerpainting on the floor with my coolest and favorite aunt! My mom would DIE before she let us fingerpaint on the floor…aunts are the best! πŸ˜€


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