Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quinoa, Avocado, and Black Bean Salad

This substantial salad is really a meal all by itself; the combination of quinoa, beans, several types of veggies, and the creamy awesomeness and healthy fat of avocados provides pretty much everything you could need or want for lunch or dinner. That said, it also makes a great side dish for summery things like veggie burgers, tacos, or kebabs, and would be a perfect contribution to a cookout or potluck. It looks like a few steps, but they can all be done simultaneously (just make the dressing and sauté the corn/bean mixture while the quinoa steams and the other vegetables roast), and in fact the finished product hit the dinner table about an hour after the idea first occurred to me. Summer's not over yet, so get in there and make some salad!

Quinoa, Avocado, and Black Bean Salad
~ 3 tsp. coconut oil, divided
~ 1 1/2 cups quinoa (golden or red; your call)
~ 2 3/4 cups no chicken broth
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced into quarter moons (I like one green and one yellow)
~ 1 medium sized red onion, diced
~ 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
~ 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
~ 3-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff here)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, chili powder
~ 2 ripe avocados, diced
~ 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
~ 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (haters can substitute fresh parsley)

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 1 tsp. of coconut oil and briefly sauté the quinoa over medium high heat for a couple of minutes, until it gives off a mildly toasty smell. Add the broth, cover the pot, and raise heat to high until the mixture just comes to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all the broth has been absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Set aside.
~ While the quinoa is cooking, arrange the zucchini and bell pepper on the prepared baking sheet and hit them with a sprinkle of salt and another shot of cooking spray. Roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.
~ Melt the remaining 2 tsp. coconut oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the corn kernels and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more.
~ Stir in the black beans and continue cooking another minute or so, just until the beans are warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside.
~ In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, cumin, and chili powder. Gently add the diced avocado and tomatoes and stir to coat.
~ In a large bowl, combine the quinoa with the cooked vegetables and the bean mixture. Add the dressing with the avocados and tomatoes and the fresh, chopped cilantro. Mix thoroughly and allow to stand at least 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors blend. (NB this salad is equally good served room temperature or cold.)

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