This quinoa salad is a lovely dish to serve with any of your Southwestern inspired dinners. Quinoa is one of those grain-like seeds that have become fashionable because of both its exotic nature and because it is good for you. Unfortunately its popularity has resulted in a price increase for this native South American staple. It has always been a mainstay of the diets in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru. In the last three years the price of quinoa has increased three times. Because of the demand for this healthy foodstuff, local villagers in South America have to pay more. Some believe that the people are eating less of it because of the price. But another theory is that because the farmers are making more money they can afford more imported products like white rice and noodles. Children, given a choice between a sweetened water and quinoa drink or a coca cola will choose the coke. But the farmers are happy and eventually the supply and demand will equalize and everyone will be better off from the consumption of this protein rich seed. At least I hope that is the case.
I found this recipe on the Food 52 website. Because it has so many of the fresh summertime vegetables in it, I knew that it would be a bowl full of goodness. I love the way that the quinoa cooks up to almost translucent bubbles. The corn is charred in a skillet with cumin seeds which brings out the flavors of both in a big way. Add black beans, tomatoes and scallions and a lime and orange vinaigrette and you have a nutritious and delicious salad.
SOUTHWESTERN QUINOA SALAD
- 1 1/2cups quinoa
- 1 cup corn (or two ears of corn, with the kernels sliced off)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 1/2cups black beans, cooked (or use canned beans rinsed and drained)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup feta, crumbled (I omitted this because I didn’t have it)
- 3 green onions, sliced (the whites and the greens)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 poblano chiles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Bring three cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. While it warms, rinse the quinoa well under cold water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes — the quinoa should still have a slight bite. (You want it well before mushy.) Then drain it well and add to a large salad bowl.
- While the quinoa cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok on high, without adding oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the corn, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are singed. It should take at least five minutes, possibly as much as ten. When they are almost done, add the cumin seeds to the skillet and toast briefly. Then add both to the large salad bowl.
- To the same salad bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, the cooked beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned), the feta, the sliced green onions, and the smoked paprika.
- Roast the poblano peppers until blackened. (I use the open flame on the stove.) Let cool, then peel, seed, and chop roughly. Add these to the bowl too.
- Toss the salad together and add salt to taste. Then whisk together the oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Toss the salad with the dressing. Taste. You may want more oil or more lime juice. Adjust as desired. Taste again. Serve.