Monday, August 27, 2007

A Summer salad featuring the miraculous Mother Grain

Quinoa has been in the news a lot these past few years, for a number of reasons. First, it is said to be one of the most nutritious foods known to human kind, with a near perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Second, quinoa will grow and thrive in soil that is sandy and alkaline and considered too hostile to other crops. Therefore quinoa holds hope to feed the starving on the world, as it grows almost anywhere. Third, it's culinarily flexible and just plain tasty. For these reasons I have been trying to cook more with quinoa, despite the complaints of my younger brothers, both of whom say white rice tastes better. Personally, I don't think American white rice has any flavor worth speaking of, but that's another blog.

Running with the desire for quinoa, I made an easy and simple quinoa and black bean salad for dinner.

Not only bright in flavor, but also vivid to the eye. A perfect, light, Summer dinner.

The original recipe came from, but I made a few minor alterations to keep it simple. The method is so simply, I can already envision some other regional twists, like Italian Quinoa, Asian Quinoa, and French Quinoa. I'll keep you posted!


Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 can sweet corn
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 small tomatoes, diced

Juice of two limes
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve.

In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about
10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, tomatoes, and cilantro and toss well.

In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish.


Luke said...

Quinoa is a magic grain. I made a Latin version... pretty much the same thing with a citrus dressing. Quinoa is even easier than rice, or Easy-Mac. I suprised it hasn't made it bigger.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Hmm. What would you put in an Asian quinoa salad? Wonder how it would taste with a dressing of lime, fish sauce, sugar, and chili peppers? :P

Karen said...

I've been making quinoa more frequently; not only do I feel virtuous, but the flavor and texture is a welcome change from brown rice or couscous.