Quinoa Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro

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I want to start the summer season off with an absolutely delicious salad.  Recall the word 'salad'. The base of this salad is quinoa, the ancient grain or "mother of all grains".  I wrote about it before when sharing the recipe for Apricot-Curry Chicken Salad. This quinoa salad is flavored with red bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, red onion, cilantro and a lovely cumin-lime dressing.  Can you taste it already??

The original recipe called for just half of each pepper, but I like my veggies, so I use the whole peppers (I included cup amounts in the recipe below).  Speaking of whole peppers, jalapeños can be as mild as a green pepper or as hot as blazes, so give the flesh a little taste first.  If you need more heat, use the seeds as well.  This is a delicious vegetarian salad on its own for lunch or dinner on those hot summer days/nights.  If you are looking to make it a bit more heartier, you can add black beans (drained and rinsed), diced avocado, charred/roasted corn and/or even mango for a tropical twist on the taste buds (you'll just have to adjust the seasoning if you do). If you are looking to serve it with a meat protein, it is a  welcome side dish to any grilled meat this time of year.I like to serve it with shrimp, chicken or Grilled Salmon with Lime Butter Sauce.  

As always, "Make it for you, make it your own!" Happy cooking!

Quinoa Salad with Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro
serves 4

1 cup pre-washed Quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium jalapeño, steamed, seeded and finely diced (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove finely grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, toast the quinoa, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water and is  tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the quinoa, recover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl to cool.

When the quinoa is cools stir in the bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil, mustard, garlic, and cumin together, then pour over the quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

The quinoa salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; season with additional salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste before serving.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from cooksillustrated.com


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