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.