Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad recipe is made with corn, diced kale, and veggies; mingled together in a cilantro and lime dressing.

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad in a brown bowl

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At a recent 50th birthday party, we served a giant Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad and brought in a taco truck for the gang! [Another great recipe? My Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad – yum! This is a repost from May 2018]

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad can be made ahead, letting the ingredients mingle together with the cilantro and lime dressing. Perfect for any party, it’s fresh and scrumptious!

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa Salad Recipe

Every year it seems one of our dear friends is having a “big” birthday. This time was our friend, Steph, who is embracing “50” with everything she has! Along with her loving family and friends, we had a great celebration.

A classic salad everybody loves? There are so many options with quinoa, and I love how you can chop ahead and cook the quinoa and corn ahead of time, too.

Ingredients for southwest quinoa salad

  • Cooked quinoa
  • Kale, cherry tomatoes, corn
  • Scallions, red & yellow peppers
  • Red onion, garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice
  • Honey or Agave syrup
  • Cayenne pepper, cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A LOT of fresh chopped cilantro

But first things first. This taco truck idea was born out of the practicality of not wanting to do it all (hello, tasty Tamale Boy taco truck), to be able to invite a lot of people, and not worry about the food.

Taco Truck Party

In an effort to make sure that everyone was well-fed, we set up drinks in the back yard, a giant table with fruit and chips and salsas and salads inside, and then of course, the taco truck in the front driveway.

We didn’t quite know how many families to expect, and folks dropped in throughout the evening, so we just went with the flow.

Easy Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

How to make quinoa salad

My favorite salad? Steph’s Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad. [Another great popular quinoa salad on my blog, Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil – oh, boy!].

My secret to a delicious kale salad is to chop it finely, so it adds the flavor, but not a huge bite, of kale. If you know what I mean.

Cook the corn and quinoa ahead and allow to cool.

Then it all comes together.

Dice and chop and mix everything together.

So fresh, with a ton of cilantro and the lime dressing!

Sí, por favor!

southwest kale salad with fresh corn

Tips for Hosting a Taco Truck Party

Variety of foods. Make several giant salads. Set out berries or fruit, chips, and varieties of salsa and guacamole. Remember when you have a taco truck come, they provide most of the food!

Self-Serve Drinks. Since the party is come and go, set out pre-made margaritas in pitchers, and let guests pour their own. Have beer and ice water.

Lemonade Stands. Let the kids run the lemonade stand in the front yard!

Buy a Specialized Dessert. Steph had a friend’s Mexican mom make Alfajores (Mexican cookies). We treated these like gold, and said “adults only,” because they were $1 per cookie. For the kids, we had ice cream bars in the freezer!

Make It a Potluck. Depending on the size of your gathering, why not make it a potluck? Ask your neighbors to bring a favorite salad. For our party, we had enough help with out-of-town guests, so we didn’t feel the need to include this on the invite.

Head to the Front and Back Yards. On a warm spring night in Portland, Oregon, we were able to mingle outside for hours, enjoying each other’s company.

Paul and I love meeting new people, so this birthday celebration was a blast for us!

Oh, and the set-up and clean-up crew? You’ve got them, right here! We had a blast making everything come together with her family, John, Katie, and Steph’s mom. :)

Feliz cumpleaños Stephanie!

More southwest recipes:

Southwest Chicken Tortilla Pinwheels [Valerie’s Kitchen]

Southwest Farro Salad with Corn and Tomatoes [Well Plated]

Southwestern Mini Quiches

Southwest Salad

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad in a brown bowl
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Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad

Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad--make ahead, letting the ingredients mingle together with a cilantro and lime dressing.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups kale chopped
  • 2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 cups corn
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 2 yellow peppers, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic clove minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 8 Tbsp honey, or 4 Tbsp Agave syrup
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • A LOT of fresh chopped cilantro


  • Cook ahead the corn and the quinoa and allow to cool.
  • Gently toss all ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Drizzle with the dressing (garlic, olive oil, lime juice, honey, cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt and pepper).
  • Keep adding chopped fresh cilantro until you get the flavor you love!


Reposted from May 2018
Cuisine: southwest
Course: Salad
Did you make this recipe?Tag @reluctantentertainer on Instagram and hashtag it #reluctantentertainer!


Southwest Kale Quinoa Salad