Precook quinoa and you can have this salad on the table in a flash! The flavors are bright and fresh, and the addition of avocado rounds out the spice and tang. This isn’t overly spicy, and the heat level really depends on the type of salsa you use. I use a mild salsa, and our kids love it!
Ingredients for Southwest Quinoa Salad:
- 21/2–3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4–1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
- 1 cup black beans
- 1/2–3/4 cup chopped avocado, tossed in squeeze of extra lime juice (see note)
- 1/2 cup corn kernels (opt for organic, frozen is fine)
- 1/2 cup mild or medium salsa (see note)
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional; can substitute flat-leaf parsley)
- 3–4 tablespoons chopped green onion (just the green portion)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin, or more to taste
- 1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt (see note)
- 1/8 rounded teaspoon allspice
- In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, agave nectar, quinoa, black beans, avocado, corn, salsa, red bell pepper, cilantro, green onion, cumin, sea salt, and allspice.
- Add extra lime juice and sweetener to taste, as well as any additional seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Avocado Note: If making this salad ahead of time, do not add the avocado, as it will discolor. Toss together all the ingredients, chill, and then work in the avocado/lime juice before serving.
Salsa Note: I normally like mild salsa, but you can use a medium salsa in this salad. For kiddos, you may want to use a mild salsa. I find 1/2 cup is just enough, but feel free to add another few tablespoons if you like it saucier!
Salt Note: Start with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, then adjust to add extra later if needed. You may want a little more depending on the brand of salsa that you use.
Serving Suggestions: This is a fabulous potluck and summer salad—double the recipe for a large crowd. Serve as is, with snacking tortilla chips, or pair with roasted potatoes and vegetables.
Grains (Quinoa, Brown Rice)
My favorite grains to batch-cook are quinoa and brown rice. That’s simply because we enjoy those grains the most, and they pair well with other recipes and meal components we love. How much you cook depends on how many you are cooking for. I typically cook about 3–4 cups dry quinoa or rice. That gives our family of five enough cooked grains for two meals (paired with vegetables, beans dishes, stews, and such). Cooked grains will keep for up to about 5 days, refrigerated. I don’t freeze grains often. You can for convenience, but I find the texture becomes a little spongy with thawing. But you can easily reheat refrigerated cooked grains (reheat at about 350°F in a covered ovenproof dish until warmed through), or use cold in grain salads, lunch bowls, or in veggie burgers (try Umami Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Burgers, page 144). Leftovers can also be used in puddings and breakfast porridges (try Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding, page 28).