Thursday, June 11, 2009

Southwest Quinoa Salad or Soup

This is a great hot weather recipe that we learned at our Organically Grown Babies class at the local co-op. It's very adaptable to any changes you want to make in the type or nature of the veggies. For example, Elspeth loves peppers, but only when they're cooked. So instead of adding raw red pepper, I added a roasted one. The original recipe calls for jicama, which we don't love and never have around, so last summer when we were overrun with CSA radishes, I substituted those. (They do turn bitter after a day, so you'll want to add a fresh batch at each meal). Another of Elspeth's favorite veggies is corn, so I cooked from organic frozen corn kernels and threw those in. The possible combinations are legion. (A side note here. This is how far overboard I go sometimes in my locavore and parenting perfectionism: we're considering getting an Oxo implement that takes corn off a cob. This made me think that I was now obligated to cook and strip enough corn kernels to keep Elspeth in local corn for an entire year. Evan talked me down from that ledge by looking at me as if I were completely insane, which I was, for a moment).

Well, as it turned out, Elspeth just wasn't fond of the texture of the room temperature cooked quinoa. I know she likes quinoa, so I searched my brain for alternatives. I was quite proud of myself for coming up with the idea of turning it into soup! I took some of the quinoa, black beans, carrots, and roasted red pepper and warmed them in some chicken stock. I pureed this blend until smooth. To add texture, I then added some additional beans whole and some frozen corn and let it cook in the soup. I am pleased to say that Elspeth seemed to like it quite a bit, though she also demanded that I add cooked peas, mainly because she adores peas and prefers to eat them with every meal.

I adapted the technique of this recipe further by keeping everything separate until eating time. This allows all eaters to choose exactly the ingredients and proportions to put in their bowls. It also makes the salad taste nicer if you're going to have leftovers. I dressed the quinoa, the beans and the roasted pepper/ corn, so each had some of the lime flavor.

1 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
2 c. water
pinch of salt

1 1/2 c. cooked black beans
1 red bell pepper, roasted or raw, in bite-sized pieces
1/4 c. chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 c. chopped jicama or radishes (optional)
2 c. chopped carrots (I steamed some lightly for Elspeth's portion and used these cooked carrots in the soup version)
1 c. cooked corn kernels

1/4 c. canola oil
2-4 TBSP freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
Pinch salt

1/2 c. toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 avocado, in chunks

  1. Place the rinsed quinoa in a large saucepan, cover with the water and add a pinch of salt
  2. Cover the pot, bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to a simmer
  3. Cook approximately 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and there are holes in the grain (do not stir)
  4. Remove quinoa from heat and set aside to cool slightly
  5. Whisk up the dressing
  6. When the quinoa is no longer steaming, mix half of the dressing into it
  7. In a separate bowl, coat the black beans with about 3/4 of the remaining dressing
  8. Finally, coat the remaining vegetables with the rest of the dressing (you can mix or keep separate these veggies at your discretion, but as I mentioned, if using radish, it should be kept separate and chopped up fresh at each meal)
  9. Give each eater a bowl and assemble as desired, using pepitas and avocado for garnish

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