Are you a quinoa convert?
I am!!! Though I admit being late to the party, I can’t seem to get enough of this amazing little grain these days. It’s always surprising to me how these tiny little circles can hold so much bold flavor! This southwestern inspired salad, for instance, is mostly about the wonderful grilled summer vegetables. Sweet corn. Crunchy zucchini. Tangy tomatoes. But the quinoa, infused with fragrant spices (cumin, coriander, smoky paprika, cinnamon), clings to each and every vegetable. Amazing flavor and texture in every bite.
This salad is very versatile. You can use more or less of each vegetable. Or add other vegetables that you favor. Here I’ve included corn, black beans, tomatoes, zucchini and orange bell peppers. But really, for me, it was all about our sweet summer corn.
The grilled vegetables are great on their own. There’s nothing better than charred chunks of fresh corn. But the red quinoa truly holds the flavor. The southwestern spices are heated in oil, and then the quinoa are toasted in that oil before they are cooked. Light and fluffy. Crunchy. Spicy. It’s all good!
Did I mention that this crunchy summer salad tastes even better the longer it sits? It’s a great salad to make for a crowd. Good as a main dish or a side. I hope you will give it a try!
In optimism there is magic. In pessimism there is nothing.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon smoky paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of red quinoa, rinsed well
- 1½ cups of water to cook the quinoa
- one 15½ ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 large zucchini, sliced and grilled, then cut into small cubes
- 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- the kernels from 4 ears of grilled corn
- 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded, grilled and cut into cubes
- 2 scallions, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon of chili garlic sauce
- Combine the salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, and cinnamon.
- In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the salt and spice mixture. Stir well and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the quinoa, stirring again for another minute.
- Add 1½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, until all the water has been absorbed and the germ has separated from the seed, about 20-25 minutes. (The quinoa will have the appearance of having little rings).
- Stir the quinoa and remove from the heat. Keep the pan covered and let it sit another 5 minutes.
- Then transfer the quinoa to a large shallow bowl. Blot with a paper towel and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Grill your vegetables as you prefer. Remove the corn from the cob, and cut the vegetables into small cubes.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the black beans, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, bell peppers, scallions, chopped cilantro.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, honey, chili garlic sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the black bean salad.
- When the quinoa has cooled completely, add the black bean salad and combine thoroughly. Taste and season as desired. Garnish with cilantro.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.