Southwest Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced, "KEEN-wah") is known as the "mother of all grains". But technically quiona is a seed, but still commonly known as a grain. Perfectly gluten-free and packs a powerful-protein punch (22 grams per 1 cup!). It is truly a superfood because it is contains eight amino acids needed for the body's nutritional needs specifically tissue growth and repair. Another beneficial nutrient is manganese, which acts as a disease and cancer fighting antioxidant in the body. Other vital nutrients that quinoa provides are: magnesium, fiber, calcium, riboflavin, copper and potassium.

In order to cook quinoa effectively, it is important to rinse the seeds because of the saponin that it is coated with. Some recommend soaking the seeds overnight. Either way, make sure they are thoroughly washed to rid the quinoa of the bitter taste it may take on if not.

A friend of mine graciously passed this recipe on to me awhile ago, but I made some small changes to call it my own. This salad can be served warm or cold. I prefer cold. It makes a generous amount and would be great to have on hand through the week for a stand-alone meal or a palate-pleasing side dish.


2 T. olive oil
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 red or yellow (or green, if you must) pepper, chopped
1 small clove of garlic, minced
2 cups quinoa (soaked or rinsed!)
3 1/2 to 4 cups of water
salt, to taste
2 t cumin
juice of half a lime
1/2 can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen sweet corn
4 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced


1. Saute onion and yellow/red pepper for 5 minutes in oil or until tender (do not overcook). Add garlic the last 2 minutes. Add quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until the quinoa is toasted and smells nutty, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the water (3 1/2 cups) and heat to boil. Once boiling, reduce to low simmer and cover tightly for roughly 15 minutes. Add more water as needed. Quinoa is done cooking when the seed uncoils and you notice a little tail off the seed body. (I personally think the "uncoiling" is quite endearing!) Stir in salt and cumin.

3. I like to let the cooked quinoa cool off the hot burner with lid off for about 20 minutes. Like I said, I prefer mine cold. Once the steam has left the mixture, add black beans, corn, lime juice and scallions and mix.

Serves 6 or more.

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