This grain salad is one of the best things I’ve eaten this year (and there’s been a lot of competition for that title so far. Those carrot soups I wrote about last week were insanely delicious ).
The salad (or grain bowl, if you’re not a salad eater) can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. I think it’s the perfect compromise for those days when you crave hearty and filling, but bright and refreshing taste. Basically, when you want the freshness of a salad, but which will satiate you and keep you that way.
This recipe has everything you want in a salad bowl or grain bowl: quinoa and beans (protein and fibre), corn (sweet) and oranges (sweet tartness), celery (bitter crisp), red onion (sweet/hot crisp ), avocado (creamy delight) bound with a smoky sweet and sour dressing.
The recipe won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s so good you won’t mind. To give it a bit more visual appeal, instead of mixing everything as directed, layer it with the grain on the bottom, layering the remaining ingredients or stacking them in clusters, then drizzling with the dressing.
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Quinoa with beans, avocado and orange
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
- ½ cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen, drained if using canned)
- 1 can (15 ounces) black, pinto or kidney beans (drained)
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup sliced celery, plus a few leaves
- 1½ avocado, peeled, pitted and diced, divided use
- 2 oranges, peeled and separated into segments (membrane removed if desired)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Zest and juice of 1 lime, plus more juice
- Honey, to taste
- Smoky hot sauce (I used chipotle Cholula), to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground chilli, plus more to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa, 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and all water has been absorbed. Put aside.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, beans, onion, celery, two-thirds of the avocado and orange wedges and toss gently. Stir in cooked quinoa.
For the dressing:
In a blender or food processor, combine half the avocado, orange juice, lime zest and juice, about 1 tsp honey, 2 tsp hot sauce, ¼ tsp cumin, ¼ teaspoon chilli and a pinch or two of salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more honey, hot sauce, cumin, chili or salt as needed. If the mixture tastes a bit flat, add more lime juice.
Drizzle with dressing and toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 4 servings.