Salsa Quinoa


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Bangkok’s elevated public transportation system is called the BTS.

I hate to say anything critical about the BTS (obviously I’m about to) because it is clean, efficient, and almost without fail, trains come by within 5 minutes of one another.  But here’s the thing.  At rush hour, it’s shockingly crowded.  It puts the DC metro and even, dare I say it, the New York subway to shame.

At peak times in Bangkok, every stop of the BTS signals the beginning of a new round of large-scale, human Tetris.

We turn ourselves this way and turn ourselves that way and situate ourselves so that we can squeeze in just…one…more…person.  All the while, Thai passengers manage to appear stoic, calm, and blissfully engaged in their smart phones, unaffected by the fact that their limbs are intertwined with total strangers’.

And I try, without success, to mimic them and keep my growling, grimacing, groaning to myself.

After all the twisting and turning, and squeezing together of shoulder blades to fit into 6-inches of free space while maintaining the personal space of others, a girl deserves something tasty.  And while what I would really like is a brownie, or a cookie, or maybe something like this after all of my effort, instead I arrive home to have Salsa Quinoa.

The Salsa Quinoa, as it turns out, is delicious enough even to pull me out of my BTS funk…and is almost as good as having a brownie.

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Salsa Quinoa

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 and 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained, if using canned beans)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. scallion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. no-pulp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • juice from 1 small lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado, sliced and cut into small pieces


  • Heat the broth in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, dry toast the quinoa in a separate pan, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until the quinoa becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes. When the broth begins to boil, pour in quinoa, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover with a lid. Allow the broth and quinoa to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and gently stir the quinoa with a spoon. Add black beans, bell pepper, scallion and cilantro to the quinoa and stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, honey and cumin. Pour liquids over quinoa and stir until evenly coated. Taste and add salt, if needed. (At this point the quinoa can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Just before serving, add avocado and stir to combine. Serve quinoa at room temperature.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. omg I just sent my best friend an email begging for some quinoa and crystal light. I just read you’ve found it in Foodland, so I’m gonna attempt to go to the one near Pat Pong and look for it.

    1. Raymond, it’s been hit or miss at Foodland these days, but I’ve always been able to find it at Villa. I just picked some up at the Villa on Sukhumvit 13 a couple weeks ago. Good luck! It’s certainly made me happy to be able to have a stock of quinoa on-hand!

  2. I tried this last week and loved it 🙂 thanks for the recipe…Been trying to eat more black beans as they are so full of protein and fibre!

  3. Hi, Had the worst day traveling through BTS…….So..The Words “BTS blue” dragged me to your Blog! And THANK YOU…. i laughed like a mad woman after reading it… 😉 thanks again …

    1. Sumi – thanks so much for the note! I’m glad to hear from someone who can relate. I had a rather unfortunate BTS commute yesterday evening, and it’s always nice to know you’re not alone.

  4. The Words BTS blue dragged me to your Blog! and I want say THANK YOU…. i laughed a lot .. almost like a mad woman after reading it… Funny because had just come home and was absolutely furiated by the BTS blues 😉 thanks again …

  5. I adore quinoa, and your recipe sounds delish! Where do you get quinoa in Bangkok? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Thanks, krap.

    1. Abe – I’ve found quinoa in the baked goods section at Foodland. It’s definitely tough to find. I’ve put in a standing request to family and friends to throw a bit in care packages when they send them our way. 😉 Good luck, kha.