Quinoa is a wonderful little grain that is packed with protein and calcium. It is a great way to vary dishes that typically call for rice. This is a version of a salad that I sometimes eat with brown rice and black beans covered in pico de gallo or salsa. Easy, healthful, good. Here, I added an interesting grain and a colorful and crunchy pineapple and jicama salsa to my standard.
The salsa is great on its own and would be excellent with tortilla chips or as a topping for fish tacos…or chicken tacos al pastor…or pork tacos. I’m going to be making this salsa often, with or without the healthy salad. It is too bad I always find a way to screw up healthy things by adding all of the naughty stuff back into them. But this seems like a good way to put some color and crunch into all kinds of dishes.
Quinoa and Black Bean Mix:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
2 ears of corn
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup jicama, cut into small cubes
2 cups pineapple, cut into small cubes
¼ cup red onion, chopped
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado chopped (optional), drizzled with a little lime juice to prevent browning
Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the stove. Spread the cooked quinoa out on a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, spray a grill pan with nonstick cooking spray and cook the ears of corn for 10 minutes or until they are cooked and have nice grill marks. Remove the corn from the grill pan to cool.
To make the jicama salsa, combine the chopped pineapple, jicama, red onions and chopped serranos. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, brown sugar, cumin and salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the lime dressing on top of the jicama mixture. Stir to combine. Place the salsa in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors can meld.
Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off of the ears of corn.
To serve, place a scoop of the quinoa mixture in a bowl and top it with the jicama salsa. Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Top with chopped avocados that have been sprinkled with lime juice.
If you buy pre-rinsed quinoa, you can simply proceed with the recipe. If the quinoa is not pre-rinsed, you will need to put it in a strainer and rinse it with water to remove compounds called saponins, which can make cooked quinoa taste bitter.
If you are serving this to a crowd, you can mix the salsa into the quinoa mixture just before serving.
The quinoa mixture is BORING without the salsa, so if you decide not to do the jicama salsa, at least have some other salsa or pico on hand.