"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Don’t Fear the Quinoa: Southwest Quinoa Salad

by Julie on January 24, 2012

in Minor Miracles, Dinner, Vegetarian

 quinoa salad in a little orange dish

Quinoa, not fish eggs...

I didn’t even know how to pronounce quinoa until a few years ago,

“KeeNoA,” I said. “Isn’t that like a super grain the indians used to eat or something?”

“It’s pronounced “Keen-WA,” said my friend, who watched me silently while I danced around doing my best Karate Kid imitation.  “Keeeeen-WAAAAAAA!!!!”

When I was done she added, quite seriously; “It’s a very important and very nutritious grain.”

Well. That may be. But I was still very wary of our friend quinoa.

In my abject ignorance, it ranked up there with the sorts of vaguely frightening and definitely unpalatable foodstuffs like tempeh and spirulina that uber-healthy sorts eat. And since I’ve always felt like my love of rice and beans and lentils should adequately pay my rent in the healthy eating food space,  I didn’t have to go out there into the wild outback of unpronounceable grains.

But then I saw a recipe for something called Southwest quinoa salad. And for some reason, maybe it was the lunch hour, maybe it was the photograph, or the mention of black beans…it stuck and plagued me until I broke down and resolved to give it a whirl. Quinoa and everything.

First, I procured a box of quinoa from Trader Joe’s.

I riffed on this recipe I found on my lastest favorite blog, My Kitchen Addiction:

here’s her recipe, with my changes:

•    1 cup quinoa
•    2 cups water
•    15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
(or about 2 cups cooked black beans)
•    3 ears of steamed corn, cut off the cob (yeah right. It’s jan. I used one 15-ounce can of corn)
 …or 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
•    1 red bell pepper, diced
•    1/2 red onion, chopped
•    Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

•    Kosher salt
•    Freshly ground black pepper
•    Mixed greens (optional)
•    Avocado slices (optional)

I rinsed the quinoa first. It’s very small and light and a lot of it floats. So you have to strain it through a fine mesh.

Cook the quinoa in the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes.

While you’re cooking the quinoa, chop the veggies and prepare the lime cilantro dressing:

Use the good chili powder, from Little India:

chili powder


•    1 lime (zest and juice)
•    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
•    1 teaspoon chili powder
•    1 tablespoon agave syrup ( I used honey)


lime zest

A zesty enterprise..

Mix all the veggies in a bowl…

And add the COOLED quinoa. Toss with the dressing and refrigerate for a few hours. Serve over greens….

Southwest-style Quinoa salad

On the bed of greens...

The Drama Teen inspected this. “Are you making fish eggs?” she asked. No, I said. It’s quinoa.

She’s gotta learn this from someone, right?

I dished this out and passed it around. it looked good to me, but who knows what it tasted like.


“Excellent,” said the lovely ex. And then fixed me with a look. “Who are you and what have you done with Julie?”

Audrey, a kitchen goddess, also praised this salad. “I can’t eat all that,” she said, when I presented her with a plate. And then she finished it all.  I was thrilled. Because Audge knows good eatin’.

I’m warming up to quinoa. I’m not so afraid. It’s not so crunchy after all. I think I can work with it.

I think next time I’ll try this recipe. It includes feta cheese, and cooks the quinoa in chicken broth. A sinful (and flavorful) way to counteract the holy righteousness of quinoa.



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari January 24, 2012 at 7:59 am

Great recipe! I love quinoa and usually add it to lamb stew to add some substance. My latest quinoa addiction is quinoa pasta. It has the texture and flavor of regular pasta unlike whole wheat pasta. Which means I can pass it over on my son and he thinks he’s eating regular pasta, when in fact, he’s eating healthy!! I’m such a mean mom!


Haylo January 24, 2012 at 8:35 am

My sister in law had some quinoa crackers she was feeding to my toddler niece. It was addicting crazy good so I promptly bought some quinoa that has been sitting in my pantry ever since. Looks like I’m cooking it up today!


Bonnie McCarthy January 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

ACH! I’ve been pronouncing it silently in my head as Qui-Noah for years!! Thanks for the heads up -maybe now I will actually say it out loud…it’s a step towards eating it! Keen-Wa!!


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