Quinoa is ubiquitous these days and there is a reason for that. It’s good. A high protein, gluten free, grain-like food that’s not a grain, quinoa is versatile and simple to prepare. In fact, this salad is so simple I hesitated to post it here. But sometimes the simplest things are the best, especially when the heat soars and appetites fade. This salad can be a side dish to grilled chicken or pork or a vegetarian main course. It would be great served in a pita bread pocket or spooned into a ripe avocado. It makes a great portable meal too, perfect to take to work for lunch.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary, and drained ( the brand I use, Ancient Harvest, is pre-rinsed)
2 cups water
1/2 cup small dice of red onion
1/2 cup small dice of red bell pepper
1 cup corn kernels (if using fresh corn, saute or steam lightly until tender crisp)
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the quinoa with the water and a pinch of salt in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy. Turn the quinoa out of the pot into a large bowl to cool. In a small bowl whisk the vinegar, lemon or lime juice, cumin, and salt together. Stream in the olive oil, whisking to blend. Taste and adjust for salt and acid. Chop the cilantro leaves finely, reserving a sprig or two for garnish. When the quinoa is cool, add the onion, pepper, corn kernels, black beans, and chopped cilantro. Add about 2/3 of the dressing and toss the mixture. Taste for seasoning and add the remaining dressing if desired. (If you refrigerate the salad, you may want to reserve some dressing to add just before serving). The salad will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.