Southwest Quinoa Salad
By DK on May 16, 2013
When I mention the word "Quinoa", I would assume that at least 99% of you would think "Salad". Given how popular a "salad quinoa" relationship is, I unfortunately had no takers in my house (except me). The word Salad is a mnemonic to bland and/or cold and/or something that's quite meager in the protein department in my Vegetarian household. Very few salads make through to the main table that doesn't leave my husband nutritionally wanting yet speaks to his quirk of it being "not cold".
I have tried 26 (yes, I kept count) Quinoa Salad recipes in the last 5 yrs. Only 3 of them came through and oh boy, were those hits! Its a beautiful sight for the mother in me to watch her toddler eat a Quinoa Salad with full gusto. This salad has Southwestern flavors and ingredients adding both volume, nutrition and color to this salad. This is one of those dishes that provides you equal (if not more) value for every calorie you consume. Its sad how we haggle and optimize everything in our life when it comes to money and materials but fail to do so with what we eat. Let this salad help to change your perspective. Rest assured, it most probably will :)
my kitchen notes
Prep Time: 1 to 2 hours
Cook Time: Under 15 min
Serves: 8+ people
Yield: Makes around 8 cups
- 1/3 cup dry Black Beans, see Tips
- 1/4 tsp Epazote, optional, see Tips
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 Bay Leaf, optional
- 1 Garlic
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds, see Tips
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red Onion
- 1 med-large Tomato,chopped
- 3/4 cup frozen Corn, see Tips
- 1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, see Tips
- 1/3 cup fresh Lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Flax Seed Oil, see Tips
- 1/4 cup Pepitas/Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- Few sprigs of Cilantro, chopped
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Tips1. Black Beans: You can instead substitute cooked 1 cup Black beans or canned beans (rinse it well). Try to opt for Organic BPA free beans, if possible.
2. Epazote: I use this Mexican herb for its medicinal property of relieving abdominal discomfort (a.k.a gas) that comes from eating beans. You can substitute it with a Bay leaf instead.
3. Cumin Seeds: You can instead use 1 tsp of cumin powder. In this recipe I use it to flavor the Quinoa cooking water. If you don't want to do this, you can instead just toast the cumin seeds and top the salad with it. Same goes for Garlic.
4. Corn: You can instead use corn on the cob, grill it and once charred remove the corn kernels and use it in the salad too.
5. Bell Pepper: You can use any other color.
6. Flax Seed Oil: I add it for the nutrition it provides. But if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have any blood related disorders, I would suggest talking to your practitioner before using it. In this recipe, just substitute it with additional Olive oil.
Soak the black beans the previous day in some water. I add few drops of Apple cider Vinegar to this water. I do this to remove the phytic acid present naturally in beans. This is optional - but it helps to reduce the gassiness considerably and is better for you generally.
Rinse the beans, the next day
and cook it with enough water to cover it. Add the Epazote, if using. Please refer my Tip 1, if you don't want to use the herb and/or if you want to skip this process of cooking the beans.
I pressure cook it for 8-10 min (abt 3 whistles) or until the beans are soft (but retain shape). Set aside. You can use this water for other cooking purposes.
Rinse and drain the Quinoa.
Heat a saucepan. Add 2 cups water along with Garlic, Cumin Seeds and Bay leaf. I add them here to flavor Quinoa but you can skip it, if you wish. See Tip 3.
Bring it to a boil and then add the Quinoa. Cover the pan, reduce heat to Low-Medium and simmer for about 8 min
or until when most of the water has been absorbed.
Now add the frozen corn. I do this 'cos I hate the taste of just thawed out frozen corn. If you are OK with it, simply add thawed corn along with the veggies. Or else you can stir fry or use grilled corn. See Tip 4
Let it continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit for another 5 min. Uncover, fluff with a fork and cool for 5-10 minutes.
While that's cooling, prep the veggies (onion, tomato, bell pepper) and add them together along with black beans
In another bowl, whisk together Extra Virgin Olive oil, Lemon juice and Flax seed oil if using, along with sea salt and pepper. Please refer Tip 6 before adding flax seed oil. Set aside.
Remove the bay leaf from Quinoa (and Garlic if you don't like mushy garlic) and add it to the vegetables. You can use another large bowl to do this. I am lazy and hence use the same pan :)
Drizzle the dressing to the quinoa-bean mixture.
Toss gently to coat. Taste and season accordingly. At this point, cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour (at least) for the flavors to mingle well.
Before serving, dry roast the raw pumpkin seeds
and add it to the salad along with cilantro. Toss and serve
Extremely filling and makes generous portions. For once you can eat to your heart's content knowing that every bit of that calorie provides value to your body :)
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