meatless monday: southwestern quinoa salad
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is, scientifically speaking, a member of the genus Chenopodium. Historically, it is validated by the Incas, who referred to it as the “mother of all grains”, and was first sown each growing season by the Incan emperor. And today, it is quickly gaining popularity as a grain (well, seed) to challenge rice and couscous. Nutty, tender and incredibly filling, it isn’t just for the health-food crowd anymore. Not that I have anything against health-food crowds, of course. Where do you think I first learned of this super-psuedocereal?
This salad, containing the mother of grains and food of emperors, is simple and surprisingly crowd pleasing. Even the staunchest of omnivores will dig into this salad with gusto. The vegetables are healthy, but mainstream, meaning that even the resident eight-year-old food critic can’t complain. And here it is:
Southwestern Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups cooked)
3 ears steamed corn, cut off the cob (about 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
nice big handful of cilantro, chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar (I used grade A maple syrup)
kosher salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let sit for an additional 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the black beans, corn, bell pepper, onion and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, prepare dressing by combining the lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, chili powder and agave. Whisk until smooth.
Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, add it to the bean and vegetable mixture. Add the dressing, and gently toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
I served this with a bowl of chips and slices of raw herbed cheddar.
Maybe I don’t need meat so much after all.