Spicy Shrimp with Quinoa Salad

Shrimp, Quinoa and Chickpeas | The Protein Trinity
Shrimp, Quinoa and Chickpeas | The Protein Trinity

This salad’s sunny hue bursts with fresh flavors. It’s quinoa tossed with spicy grilled shrimp, charred corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado and chickpeas. This dish is brimming with protein, making it fulfilling, while leaving you energized instead of sluggish.

After making the Quinoa, Beet and Citrus Salad last week, I had some uncooked quinoa left over.  To be completely honest, last Monday was the first time I had bought and cooked raw quinoa. I mean there was that recipe from my Blue Apron adventure that incorporated this grain, but it was precooked and only needed to be heated up. That doesn’t count. Well anyways, I have always thought quinoa was like rice; heavy, starchy and sticky (which is why I avoided it). But I have to say, it is actually easy to make, light and fluffy! You’re probably thinking, “Duh Maria, quinoa is not a new concept”.

Photo on foodgawker

By the way, if you are reading this post I want to say thank you.

I am not one of those bloggers, if there are any, who causally shrugs when someone leaves a comment, likes my post or follows me on Instagram. I am truly grateful for those that take the time to read and reflect on what I share. When you cook from the heart and make these meals for your family, there is something wonderful about knowing that there is a community of people out there that share your same passion. There have been times where I have emailed an effective blogger, asking them questions about their success, and have not heard back. I understand being busy, we all are, so I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your support!

So back to the recipe, I had uncooked quinoa left over. I searched online for a recipe and found this one on Cooking Light, my absolute favorite magazine and website. Naturally I tweaked it a bit, but pretty much stayed true to the ingredients from the original. It’s natural simplicity makes this salad gorgeous to gaze upon. I fancy the different textures and pastel colors, it’s really very unique.


  • 1 1/2 limes, fresh juice
  •  olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, depending on your spice caliber (I used Tiger Sauce)
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
  • 24 large shrimp or 70-100 small shrimp, peeled (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 ears corn, remove husks
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 diced peeled avocado
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (I forgot to put this on!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Broken by Icicles
Broken by Icicles

Preheat the grill.

Now as you can see, our grill was demolished by a flood of heavy icicles that fell directly onto it. Therefore, I did not use the grill for this recipe. However, I would recommend that you DO use a grill, if yours is in tact.

Marinate the Shrimp
Marinate the Shrimp
  • Mix 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, black pepper, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, paprika, and 2 garlic cloves in a medium bowl.
  • Add shrimp and toss well
  • Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes

My little itty bitty local grocery store, that has the dimensions of a volleyball court, did not have fresh shrimp or frozen uncooked shrimp, so I had to buy cooked frozen shrimp. I am not happy about this, but you understand.

Toast the Quinoa
Toast the Quinoa
  • Heat olive oil in a  saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and saute for 3 minutes
  • Add remaining 2 garlic cloves and quinoa
  • Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly
  • Add 1 and 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed
  • Set aside to cool
Cut Kernels Off Corn
Cut Kernels Off Corn

If you are using a grill

  • Rub ears of corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Grill for 7-10 minutes until charred
  • Cut off corn kernels (see above photo)

OR if you don’t have a grill

  • Cut off the corn kernels (see photo above)
  • Heat a pan with olive oil on medium-high
  • Add corn kernels, season with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes (see photo below)
Saute Corn Kernels
Saute Corn Kernels

While corn grills or sautes…

  • Remove shrimp from bowl and throw away marinade
  • Season shrimp with salt
  • Put shrimp onto skewers
  • Place skewers onto grill rack coated with cooking spray.
  • Grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

In my case, I added the already cooked shrimp to the corn pan and heated them up quickly.


We gobbled it right up!
We gobbled it right up!

Combine and Stir in Bowl

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Add quinoa mixture, tomatoes, chickpeas, avocado, corn and cheese to bowl and toss gently
  • Top with shrimp
  • Garnish with cilantro and additional hot sauce (optional)

I loved the sweet crunch of the corn, juicy pop of the raw tomato, creamy texture of the avocado, citrus notes from the cilantro, meaty bite to the chickpeas, and of course the shellfish flavor from the shrimp. All of this goodness was wrapped in a downy bed of quinoa and tossed with a spicy snap of hot sauce. The salad can also be served cold and makes amazing left overs!

You won’t like this, trust me. I’ll just take the left overs to work so you don’t have to eat them 😉