Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mexican Quinoa Salad

This is such a tasty and healthy meal that I've made it twice this week! I was inspired by my good friend, Jill Nevard, who is our trainer at work and specializes in healthy eating. This recipe is adapted from a menu item we have at work.

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah", just in case you were wondering) is an ancient grain that is a complete protein and gluten free. It is similar to rice, in that it is a blank canvas for flavor. The tangy lime vinaigrette really makes this a winner!

1 lime, juiced & zested
2 TBS agave nectar
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
This makes a lot of dressing, so normally I just skim off some for a later use. You only need about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dressing. 

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 of a yellow, red or orange bell pepper
1 small jalapeno, diced finely
1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 handfuls of greens- spinach, arugula, whatever you like
1 handful of freshly grated white cheddar-optional

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. Add to the chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Turn of heat and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes and fluff with a fork. While the quinoa cools off a bit, prepare the dressing. Mix the lime zest, juice, agave nectar and garlic together. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper accordingly. Again, if you don't want to use all the dressing, skim some off and save it for another time. Chop the veggies and throw them in a big bowl. Once quinoa is cooled off, add that and mix together. Serve over greens and sprinkle with cheese. Make sure to taste it to see if it needs more salt or more dressing.

This recipe serves about 4 people. You can bulk it up even more with grilled chicken or flank steak would be delicious too. Also, add whatever veggies you like! Some black beans or roasted corn would be really good in this dish as well. Enjoy!

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