Do you have a favorite summertime potluck dish? I do and you are looking at it!
I’ve been making quinoa salad in one form or another for years. I like to play with the beans, veggies, and herbs I add based on what I have in the house/what’s in season. Black beans are definitely my preferred bean, and as soon as fresh local corn starts to make an appearance in markets around here, corn is pretty much a must. I’ve added basil on occasion but cilantro is definitely a better fit with the other elements in this particular salad.
If you are as yet unfamiliar with quinoa, it’s a seed that’s native to the Andes region of South America. I ate it several times when I was recently in Peru, cooked in a stew. While it behaves like a grain, quinoa is actually more nutritious than most grains because it is high in protein, iron, and calcium. Quinoa is also gluten-free.
Quinoa seeds are coated with a bitter substance so you need to rinse quinoa very thorough before cooking. Moreover, quinoa benefits from a several hours-long soak in water in order to deactivate the naturally-present enzymes that bind up the nutrients within. For this reason, on days when I am planning to cook quinoa, I like to place it in a large bowl and cover it with water for 2-3 hours. Then I pour off the water, and rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before proceeding to cook it.
Recipe for Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn
Yield: 8-10 servings
As I mentioned above, I love bringing this salad to potlucks because it's easy to throw together and it feeds a crowd. I also like to make it just for my family, though, ensuring leftovers I can snack on all week long.
*2 cups uncooked quinoa, soaked for 2-3 hours (optional) and then rinsed thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer
*4 cups water
*2 cups fresh corn (cut from from approximately 2 ears) or organic frozen corn
*1 very small red onion, diced
*juice of 2 plump limes
*two 15-ounce cans (or one 28-ounce can) of organic black beans, drained and rinsed (or soak and then cook an equivalent amount of dried beans)
*2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chile, or to taste
*1 ripe avocado, diced
*1 large bell pepper (I used a red one), diced
*1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
*6 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
*Coarse sea salt and finely ground black pepper
1. Combine rinsed quinoa and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, add the corn, and keep covered for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa/corn mixture with a fork and allow to cool slightly.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a very large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa/corn when it has cooled and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve at room temperature or chilled.