I find that quinoa has a very distinct smell when it is cooking, and I'm not quite sure that I like it. If the quinoa is toasted before cooking, however, the smell becomes nuttier and much more appealing. This salad uses toasted quinoa, roasted corn and a tangy lime dressing, and makes a filling and healthy lunch.
Spread 1 cup of quinoa out on a baking sheet, and bake at 350F until slightly golden and fragrant, about 3 - 5 minutes. If it's still not done, leave it for a bit longer...give it a stir and let it continue to toast.
Immediately place the toasted quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water.
Bring to a full boil, cover and turn the heat to simmer. Cook until all the liquid has absorbed.
Turn off the heat and allow it to steam for another 10 minutes.
When the quinoa is cooked, the grains will be lighter in colour and fluffy.
Using a fork, gently spread the cooked grains out onto another baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
You can roast the corn at the same time that the quinoa is toasting.
Place 1/2 cup of frozen corn in an ovenproof dish. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin.
Roast until the corn is tender and starting to become slightly golden in colour. Allow to cool completely.
While the quinoa and corn are cooling, you can prepare the rest of the vegetables for the salad.
In a large bowl, combine:
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Add the roasted and cooled corn to the vegetables.
Add the cooked and cooled quinoa, along with 1/2 can of chick peas that have been drained and rinsed.
Add lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir well to combine, and your salad is ready to go...
- Quinoa is a good source of protein, and combined with the chick peas, gives you a filling, healthy meal, no meat necessary! This salad also works as a side dish.
- If you don't have any quinoa, make the salad using couscous or orzo, or even brown rice. These do not need to be toasted first, just cooked.
- Try the salad with roasted red peppers, and crumbled feta cheese.
- Add fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil or chives.
- The salad keeps well for 2 to 3 days, well covered in the fridge. This amount will serve about 4 - 6 people.
- Use lemon juice instead of lime juice; avocado oil instead of olive oil.
- If you like things spicy, add chili powder or dried chipotle chilies to the corn when roasting.
- Feel free to add toasted nuts or seeds...try pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, toasted almonds.
- Use the vegetables you have: asparagus, cut into 2" pieces and blanched; broccoli florets, blanched; diced red onion; frozen peas; grated carrot; thinly sliced celery, olives or top the salad with diced avocado just before serving.
- If you have leftover vinaigrette from another salad, use that instead of just lime juice and olive oil.
- Use the beans you have available, or leave them out. If you do open a can of chick peas or beans, freeze the rest for another time.
- Another option instead of corn is to cut peeled butternut squash into 1" dice, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender. Mix this into the salad.
- Dice up a ripe mango and add that to the salad, along with minced red onion and chopped fresh cilantro.
- Don't limit yourself to just water for cooking the quinoa. That last bit of chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep it totally vegetarian), juice or even a bit of white wine combined with water will add depth to your salad.