Southwest Quinoa ¡Olé!

Even with fall quickly approaching, I’m not concerned. Temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area are still hitting the 80s (don’t hate!), so I’m carrying on as if summer was in full swing. One of my new favorite recipes–and one I’ve made nearly every week this summer–is Southwest Quinoa. It’s got a bunch of yummy “Southwest” ingredients that give the overall dish both interest and loads of flavor. It’s also a great make-ahead lunch idea, since it can be eaten straight out of the fridge. No microwaving necessary!

Southwest Quinoa recipe. Great for taking to school or work! #cleaneating

Quinoa is an amazing food–and believe it or not, it’s a vegetable, not a grain! It’s also protein-rich and fiber-filled, so it makes you feel full, but not I-ate-a-burger-for-lunch full.


Serves: 8 Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained [I use truRoots Organic Quinoa. If your Costco has an organic section, it’s sold there, too!]
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cobs fresh corn or 1 1/4 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained [If I don’t cook them myself, I buy Eden Organic Black Beans–the can has a BPA-free lining.]
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large mango
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional if you want a little zing!)

Directions

Olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro dressing

1. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Wash quinoa thoroughly to remove saponin, a naturally occurring coating, that can make it taste bitter. Drain using a fine mesh strainer.

2. Wash quinoa thoroughly to remove saponin, a naturally occurring coating, that can make it taste bitter. Drain using a fine mesh strainer.

3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add quinoa and cumin.

3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add quinoa and cumin. Inhale the yummy cumin-ness for a second, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 12-15 minutes).

4. Remove pan from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Uncover, and fluff with a fork and let it cool for 10 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Uncover, and fluff with a fork and let it cool for 10 minutes. Tell the quinoa how cute you think it is. Go ahead.

5. While the quinoa is cooking, slice cherry tomatoes and mangoes. Rinse and drain black beans. Chop red onions and finely mince garlic. Throw it over the quinoa when it's cooled.

5. While the quinoa is cooling, slice cherry tomatoes and mangoes. Cook corn. Rinse and drain black beans. Chop red onions and finely mince garlic. If you’re a cilantro fanatic like me, add some more. Throw all of the ingredients over the quinoa when it’s cooled, and give yourself a high five for eating raw foods.

6. Pour the lemon-cilantro dressing over the top and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld. It tastes even better at lunch the next day.

6. Pour the lemon-cilantro dressing over the top and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld. It tastes even better at lunch the next day.

7. Step back and marvel at your masterpiece.

7. Step back and marvel at your masterpiece. Click your heels and shout ¡Olé! to celebrate that fact that you will be eating this super-nutritious meal for lunch tomorrow instead of that boring PBJ your coworker slapped together.

Tips

  • Buy all organic ingredients if possible. Conventional corn is almost certainly genetically modified, so go for organic. If it’s not in season, check the frozen aisle for organic corn.
  • Consider dry-toasting the quinoa with a drizzle of olive oil for about a minute to give it more of a nuttier taste. Red quinoa also has a strong, nutty taste if you want to experiment.
  • One cup of quinoa yields 3 cups cooked. Talk about magic. You can also use extra portions later in the week in tabbouleh, chili, fried quinoa (like fried rice), salads, or even crab cakes.
  • Southwest quinoa goes great with a side of sliced cucumbers, avocados, leftover mango, or whatever strikes your fancy!
Here's my Quality Control Officer testing the mangoes for optimum flavor.

Here’s my Quality Control Officer testing the mangoes for optimum flavor.

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