Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Southwestern Black Bean Quinoa Corn Salad

Me being a happy camper in Puebla, back in 2009!
Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Today, cities across the United States with sizeable Mexican-American populations are celebrating the Fifth of May, commemorating the Mexican military victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo has over time evolved into a grand celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, sometimes even mistakenly confused with Mexico's Independence Day.

In honor of this tradition, I decided to create something simple and healthy yet nothing short on the colors, flavors, and bang that Mexico is known for (it makes even more sense that this Black Bean Quinoa Corn Salad is probably more distinctly Southwestern U.S.-style).

This salad is inexpensive, packed with nutrition, and so easy to make! Also try it with grilled corn!

As temperatures rise, this cool and mildly fiery salad is also a great way to kick start your Spring. Chilled, this salad stays fresh for days and makes for a light and very nutritious lunch and a fantastic snack on the go. Make a big batch for entertaining and pair it up with blue corn chips and guacamole. Add in other vegetables and fruits such as bell peppers, jalapeños, and even mangoes as you wish!

To prepare...
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or canned whole kernel corn*
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
A handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 medium lime, zested and juiced
1 ripe avocado
A generous splash of Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce^

1. Rinse and place quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes, covered. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients. Take pot off heat, leave covered for 5 additional minutes. Uncover pot and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool.

2. Mix black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, quinoa, and cilantro together in a large bowl. Add in lime juice and zest, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add a generous splash of Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce for some smokey heat. ^Note: Alternatively, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and some salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad.

4. Finally, top salad with sliced avocado. ¡Buen provecho!

*Note:
Now that I got a new cast iron grill at home, I will probably try this recipe again with grilled fresh corn - the flavors will deliver even more bang with charred corn kernels! Hope to come back with an update. 

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