Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Southwest Quinoa Salad


Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of our family friend, Jake, as he turned 13 and became a Jewish adult. Following the service in the synagogue, a festive lunch is served for everyone attending. Usually this is a catered event, but more often now families are choosing to prepare the lunch themselves with the help of friends. I love it!


What a happy way to gather together. It makes me think of communities long ago, when women shared in the cooking for their families and baked bread in the town ovens. For Jake’s event, friends met in our synagogue kitchen and cooked away for 275 guests. Over a few days, we chopped, we laughed, we baked, we chatted and we stirred. We enjoyed creating this celebratory meal together.


There are quite a few talented cooks and bakers in our community, whose specialties are well loved. One such friend, Iris, makes the perfect quinoa – fluffy and flavorful – for her signature salad with a Southwest flair. She first cooks the quinoa with cumin, salt and pepper. I could happily eat it just like this, but Iris creates a salad bursting with so much taste that I always find myself eating many bowls of it ... and this time asking to share the recipe.


Black beans, corn, red pepper and an abundance of chopped herbs are mixed with the quinoa and simply dressed with lime juice and olive oil. Bliss. Each colorful bite bursts with the freshness of cilantro, mint and green onions. Crunchy and soft, zesty and satisfying, this salad makes a marvelous light lunch or an ideal side dish for grilled fish or chicken.

With special times such as this, I’m reminded again of what a gift it is to be part of such a vibrant, caring community. Mazel tov to Jake!

This week, with the horrific events at the Boston Marathon, I feel even more grateful for community. Boston is my hometown and I cheered along the Marathon route many times. I am heartbroken by this devastating tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the city.

Southwest Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Iris Brumer
Serves 4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed (some brands are pre-rinsed, allowing you to skip this step)
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or a 15 ounce can of beans, drained and rinsed)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or canned)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-2 juicy limes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the quinoa, water, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the quinoa is soft and water is absorbed, about 13-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool. The quinoa can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Place the quinoa in a large serving bowl. Add the mint, cilantro, onions, red pepper, beans, corn and garlic. Squeeze the juice of one lime in and drizzle in the olive oil. Stir gently, taste for additional lime juice, salt and pepper and add more if needed.  Serve at room temperature.

34 comments:

  1. This looks amazing! Will have to try it this summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patrick! It would be perfect for a summer barbecue. I hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  2. How fantastic that your temple pulls together to cater a lunch for 275. I am so impressed!

    I am also horrified by the events in Boston this week - I realized how many people I know in the area as I tried to connect via FB and text to check on them all. Nothing is certain anymore but that's all the more reason to enjoy and celebrate the happy moments in life.

    Mazel Tov to Jake!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Beth - this special time was a gift and I'm grateful to have happy moments like these to savor. It's heartening to see community pull together, both in times of celebration and in sorrow. Let's hope for many more simchas!

      Delete
  3. I'm really digging salads at the moment. This looks wonderful - I love all the flavors, and it's substantial enough to be a main course dish if you want. Really good stuff - thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John! I've been enjoying the salads you're sharing immensely. We're entering a wonderful season for salad inspiration with all the new produce!

      Delete
  4. 275 people? Wow! That is a serious undertaking. Beautiful salad and sounds like a great event!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so much fun, Alyssa! As they say, many hands make light work and it was indeed a great event.

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful salad! Grains and vegetables and beans and herbs--it clearly has everything one could possibly want. :Now I'm wishing it were true summer, and that I had a big plate of this to eat out in the sun with a tall glass of lemonade. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Eileen, eating outside in the sunshine sounds heavenly! Let's hope it happens soon. This salad does have everything wonderful you'd hope for...and now I'm craving some fresh lemonade.

      Delete
  6. Catering smatering...I think what all of you did should become THE tradition for events. It sounds so much more meaningful and fun and what a great way to continue the building of community. Jake is a lucky boy!

    GORGEOUS salad by the way; just bursting with spring. Now if we could only find some of that here instead of frozen tundra. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You made me smile, Barb! I couldn't agree more...I hope more families choose this option. It really is a lovely time of building community (and heaps of fun in the kitchen!). I do hope spring emerges for you soon...wishing you lots of warm sunshine.

      Delete
  7. Ohmygosh. This is the salads of my dream -- with quinoa and wonderfully bright produce!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kiran! My favorite salads always involve grains and veggies, too...so much to look forward to with spring's arrival. :)

      Delete
  8. This salad is wonderful. I just love your recipes. I have never been disappointed. I will be making this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Suzanne, your comments always mean so much to me. I hope you enjoy this salad!

      Delete
  9. Looks amazing - might try it with lentils someday instead of quinoa!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I love your suggestion of lentils! I'm always happy to include legumes. I appreciate you stopping by!

      Delete
  10. This sounds like a terrific salad for the summer...I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! I think this would be a terrific salad at a barbecue. I'm looking forward to summer! :)

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful post! Not only does the salad look lovely (and I have extra quinoa in the fridge) but the sense of community is inspiring. I'm glad I found your blog tonight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Monet, I appreciate your kind words. I do feel very fortunate to be part of our terrific community. I hope you enjoy the salad and I'm delighted you stopped by!

      Delete
  12. I love quinoa salads!! how perfect to share with a crowd. I didn't realize you were from Boston! Sending lots of love to your hometown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Alex, it's been quite an emotional week and rather surreal watching all that unfolded in Boston...such a devastating tragedy. I appreciate your supportive words. xx

      Delete
  13. What a beautiful salad, Hannah - that is just bursting with colour, texture and flavour. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to participate in preparing for that celebration - there is something so special about the "community" that evolves around the preparation of food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sue! It truly was a pleasure to come together and prepare food. You're right, such a joyous, meaningful time!

      Delete
  14. Love this salad, all those colours & textures, & that burst of lime really appeals, just beautiful :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mairi! This is indeed a salad with lots going on, and the zesty lime really is lovely. I already know this'll be a staple on our table for spring and summer!

      Delete
  15. I love quinoa in salads, and the combo of southwestern ingredients will be perfect for our Cinco de Mayo party. I am also from Boston, and the past week's horrific events have only made me miss it all the more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea to serve this for Cinco de Mayo, Lynda! I hope you enjoy it. I'm missing Boston, too - my heart has been heavy, as I'm sure yours has. I hope your friends and family there are all ok.

      Delete
  16. I have been going nut with quinoa lately, and I love southwestern flavors, so it's on the list to make. This is perfect. And I'm not from Boston, but lived there for several years. If I wasn't living here, that's where I'd be. My cousin still lives in Cambridge, and we were in daily contact. Such a horrible thing that defies comprehension.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Susan, I'm loving quinoa quite a bit, too. I just made it tonight as a side dish with cumin and parsley...so simple and delicious. And it does defy comprehension to think about the devastating tragedy in Boston. I'm glad your cousin is ok. Sigh, such a somber time for such a marvelous city.

      Delete
  17. What a gorgeous quinoa salad! I wish my children would eat quinoa but I'm working on it. This is a perfect salad for BBQ and potluck party!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nami! It really is a lovely potluck dish and feeds a crowd well. I think quinoa can be an acquired taste sometimes since the texture is a bit different. Also, if it isn't well rinsed before cooking it may have a bitter flavor (which is why I'm happy to find a pre-rinsed brand). Good luck! :)

      Delete