Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Lots o' Stuff

If there was a health buzzword for 2012, I think it would be a close race between quinoa and kale. Somehow, these two exploded onto the scene as being the new superfoods. My first encounter with quinoa was when I made sweet potato quinoa cakes. The first time I made them, they turned out a little underdone (read: I didn't cook the sweet potatoes long enough and tried to mash them anyways, added them chunkily to the mixture and had some lumpy dinners) and the quinoa tasted quite foreign to me. I guess I should have checked if I actually like quinoa before I bought a bag of it.

Well, a little quinoa goes a long way. So then I had this bag of grain and one half-failed recipe (over time, sweet potato quinoa cakes were perfected and are delicious!!). This led to researching (ie: Pinteresting) quinoa recipes. I came across one for a salad, perfect for lunch! It also contains black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro and feta cheese. I'll wait while you read that ingredients list again, in all its delicious and healthy glory.

I would like to take a moment to also point out how cost-effective this meal is. Like I said before, a little quinoa goes a long way so you can make this several times. It's an investment ingredient. A bag of frozen corn also lasts forever. I know because I've had the same bag of frozen corn in my freezer for over a year. It pretty much is only used for this recipe and tortilla soup. A can of black beans is $0.69. Yes, I put back the name brand beans that cost $0.79 when I saw the store brand was ten cents cheaper. You can judge, it's okay. Just remember that that's 7 minutes on a parking meter. And cherry tomatoes aren't so bad either, especially when they're on sale...and you have a coupon making them $0.99. The real ingredient splurge comes with the cilantro, a whopping $1.69 and it goes bad quickly. If you aren't going to eat this soon, don't add the cilantro. It smells funny very quickly.

Technically you're suppose to add an onion to this mix but you only need half an onion and the other half for me always goes bad so I left it out this time. This is also surprisingly easy to make. Cook the quinoa per instructions (seriously, it's like rice. Measure the water!). While it's cooking, on its own on the back burner, simmering for 20 minutes, you can cook the corn and beans. And while the corn and beans are cooking, you can chop the tomatoes and cilantro and then bam. Everything comes together in delicious, healthy harmony to create lunch for a week.

You can eat this hot or cold, I haven't decided which I prefer but I inevitably eat a portion once it's done and then eat cold versions for lunch. I think of this more as a summer dish but it was still fitting this past wintery week.

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