Monday, September 9, 2013

Quinoa Salad With Home Made Cilantro Dressing

Happy Monday one and all.  Hope your weekend was spectacular.  Ours was super busy with fall ball games and keeping grandsons overnight so our daughter and son in love could celebrate their anniversary with a stay at the Opryland Hotel.  With two little guys aged 3 and 18 months, they deserved a little respite and Grandma and Pawpaw were more than happy to help out.

Out other daughter and her family are in the throws of fall ball (no pun intended).  Practices, school, games, jobs - you know how busy life can be.  To show a little mercy, I invited them for dinner last night because Holly spends most of her Sunday on writing assignments to meet deadlines for her editors.  It helps if she doesn't have to worry about feeding her three boys and husband after a day of brain drain.

There is always that dilemma of what to fix that the boys will eat.  The 10 year old is super finicky, the 6 year old is not quite so finicky and the 3 year old is a roll of the dice.  Our son in love has celiac so there is that whole gluten issue to deal with.  Meals can present a challenge.  Last night I fixed enchilada casserole which is made with corn tortillas and contains no gluten.  I made the red sauce with corn starch instead of flour.  For sides, we grilled corn on the cob and I made this beautiful quinoa salad.

Do you know about quinoa (keen-wa) or have you tried it?  It is delicious and gluten free.  My research tells me it is not a true grain in the sense of wheat or oats, but has been cultivated in the Andes mountains for over 3,000 years.  Quinoa is full of protein and calcium, anti oxidants, and is easy to digest.  It is great for vegan diets.  The boys love it and will actually eat it.  It has a lovely mild, nutty flavor and can be served plain or added to other dishes.  There are many ways to "jazz" up quinoa.  The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2013 the year of Quinoa because they believe it could go a long way in eradicating food insecurity worldwide due to its nutritional value.

I had found a recipe for a southwest quinoa salad on Pinterest and it looked good.  It was made with quinoa, black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes.  We were having corn on the cob so I didn't want to use corn in the salad.  For this salad I used, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, green onions, red bell pepper, black olives, and a really tasty cilantro lime salad dressing.  Oh, and I threw in some crumbled bacon that I had left from BLT sandwiches.  Yum.  Crunchy vegetables work well with the soft, mild quinoa.

To make the salad, here is what you need:

Quinoa prepared according to package directions.

(You use 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups liquid.  I made 2 cups and that's a lot of quinoa.  If you are feeding 2-4 people, use 1 cup quinoa although I am loving the left over salad.)

1 medium red bell pepper diced
3 green onions, whites and greens cut on a diagonal
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, diced
sliced black olives, optional  (add as many as you like)
5 slices cooked crisp bacon, crumbled (optional)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and let cool.  Put the cooled quinoa in a serving bowl and cover with the ingredients you choose to use.  The possibilities are endless really.  I like leaving all the "yummies" on the top so that when you serve the salad, they don't all fall to the bottom.  You can mix it up if you so desire.

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

I didn't measure what I threw in the blender, but this is pretty close.

about 1/2 cup plain fat free greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
juice of one lime or lemon
1/2 to 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro
small pinch of salt

Place ingredients in a blender and whir until blended and cilantro is all chopped.  This dressing is fantastic on any salad.

Serve dressing on the side.  You may like to eat the salad without the dressing like Dan does, but the bright, flavorful dressing adds a nice zip to the salad in my opinion.  If you don't like cilantro, use basil or avocado in it's place.

I had a nice big helping of this salad this evening and it is deeeeeeeeelicious.  Think of all the possibilities for things to add to quinoa to make a healthy salad or it could be eaten as an entree.  It would be especially good for a meatless meal (minus the bacon).

If you haven't tried quinoa, this salad a good way to introduce it into your diet, or you could serve it plain as a side dish in the place of rice or potatoes.  We will definitely be eating it more often since it has been called a super food.  We are always looking for things that taste good and are good for you.  Give it a try.  I think you will like it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Quinoa is great for lazy day cooking because it's packed with complete proteins, but it cooks in only 20 minutes. And, you can flavor it any way you wish! I make mine with onions, lots of ground ginger, turmeric and coriander, and then whatever dried fruit and nuts I have around.
Aarti Sequeira, Food Network