Monday, April 2, 2012

Black Bean, Orange and Corn Quinoa Salad

For most of us, the week before Passover consists of stuffing our face with every chametz product out there in preparation for the dreaded 8 days of matzoh overload.  Luckily, quinoa, my favorite protein-packed grain-that-isn't-really-a-grain, is considered to be kosher for Pesach!! (Chabad delves into the debate here.) So move over matzoh pizza and pb &j, because quinoa will be stealing the spotlight during my 8 days of leavened-grain abstinence!  I chose Black Bean, Orange and Quinoa Salad for this post because it is super easy to make and exceptionally filling for a lunch or dinner salad; a quality you don't always find in a green-leaf based one.

 I know I've already gone into extensive detail on previous posts about the health benefits of quinoa, but I have even more to report as the Whole Grain Council named quinoa its March grain of the month. The article starts off with this quote from Philip White: "While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom."  One of the only plant foods that is considered a complete protein, quinoa helps you feel full longer with its unusually high ratio of protein to carbohydrate.  Quinoa has been shown to help reduce the risk of diabetes and serve as a nutritious option in gluten free diets, plus its significant potassium content can help to control blood pressure.

The highlights of this recipe are the tangy lime-cumin dressing and juicy orange chunks. The jalapeno gives the salad a nice kick, which when tossed with the black beans, cilantro and pepper exhibit a southwestern zest.  Make a large batch to hold you over for a few meals- I promise you won't get sick of it- and when its time to return to that matzoh, maybe it won't be so bad after all!

Black Bean, Orange and Corn Salad (from The Little Yellow Kitchen)
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 orange, segmented and cut into small chunks
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
Dressing:
1/4 cup lime juice 
1/4 cup olive oil (I used 1/8 cup)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional additions: 1 cup baby spinach leaves, diced avocado,  feta cheese for garnish

Directions:
1. Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water for 10-15 minutes, according to package directions.
2. Add the black beans, orange and the rest of the ingredients in the salad. Stir to combine.
3. Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle over quinoa mixture. Serve.


Sources:
"Quinoa – March Grain of the Month." Whole Grains Council. Web. 2 Apr. 2012. <http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/quinoa-march-grain-of-the-month?utm_source=Fresh+Fridays%3A+Fresh+Asparagus%3A+A+Cause+for+Celebration_3%2F9%2F12_JK&utm_campaign=Fresh+Fridays3%2F9%2F12&utm_medium=email>.




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