take-it-to-go thursdays: mexican confetti quinoa salad

For most summers that I can remember, I have gone spent time in the mountains of western North Carolina at the best summer camp of all. Time in and around that part of the world has exposed me to foods that still aren’t found often in south Alabama. One of those foods is quinoa.

I vividly remember the first time I had it. My birthday was on the last day of camp for the summer and a dear friend who I worked with made me a birthday lunch. I only had two caveats: no tomatoes and no stinky cheese. I have very sophisticated tastes. One of the foods that was served was a quinoa salad (not this one–it was Italian flavored and writing this reminds me I need to get the recipe) and I loved it.

Since I had it so many moons ago, I assume that everyone has had quinoa. However, after talking about it with people, I realize that is not the case. However, it is getting more popular–I’ve seen it all over the blogosphere in the past few months.

What is quinoa though? According to the internet (always a safe source of information), it is one of the world’s healthiest foods. It is a complete protein, it is naturally gluten-free, and it contains all kinds of vitamins. I’ve started substituting it for rice in a lot of dishes and have found that I really do like it better.

This dish was something I concocted last summer when I was looking for something to take to work that didn’t need to be refrigerated, was filling (but not too filling that I wanted to go to sleep after I ate it), and was somewhat healthy. ┬áThis dish is super tasty and very filling–with this and a banana, I don’t get hungry again until dinner! I also don’t feel bad about eating every bite that I pack for myself because it good for me, with all the protein and vegetables. This could also serve as a side dish with chicken or fish–or anything really.

Recipes:

Mexican Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used red quinoa just because I think its so pretty)
  • 2 cups water (sometimes I do one cup water, one cup chicken broth–but this substitution doesn’t add a ton to the flavor, to be honest)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers (or yellow or orange–I’ve tried it with green and it isn’t as good)
  • 1 serving Mexican dressing (recipe below)

Mexican Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lime (about one table spoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the dressing, simply combine all ingredients. I’m not fancy–I use a tupperware container and shake it until well blended. You could also use a whisk, if that is your preference.

Method:

  • Combine the quinoa and the water in a small covered pot on the stove. Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat down and let the quinoa cook for twenty minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, “fluff” it with a fork.
  • In a bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, the black beans, the corn, the edamame, and the diced red pepper. Stir to combine.

  • Toss the quinoa mixture with the dressing.

Cook time: 20 minutes. Total time: 25-30 minutes.

Makes 5 one cup servings.

This can be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days. I usually make a big batch on Sundays and eat it all week. What can I say? I am a creature of habit.

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