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Quick Dinner–Spicy Quinoa Salad

by Karen on February 14th, 2011

Not only is this a quick dinner but the leftovers are great for lunch. It travels well and is best served at room temperature.  The jalapenos add spice and the pine nuts a little crunch. 

When I first began developing a cookbook I met Cynthia Lair.  We were both teaching cooking classes at PCC Natural Markets and I owned a few of her cookbooks which are filled with healthy food.  She helped me figure out a few things for my book the day we met for coffee and I have been a big fan of hers ever since.  Cynthia is the director of curriculum for Bastyr’s Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts. 

She has two books: Feeding the Whole Family (Sasquatch Books, 2008) and  Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players and Parents. 

This recipe is my adaptation from the Feeding the Young Athlete book, it is a little spicier.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a nutirent dense complete protein. 

It has a nutty flavor but it also takes on the flavors that you add to it.  I haven’t seen many quinoa salad recipes that use Cynthia’s trick of infusing the flavor of olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and salt by mixing them in when the quinoa is still warm–it is a great idea you will want to use with other recipes.

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Spicy Quinoa Salad

1/4 cup pine nuts
2-3 cups cooked quinoa (use a mix of red and regular quinoa)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 whole jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (remove membrane but keep the seeds)
1/2 red, yellow or orange sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

I generally buy a bag of toasted pine nuts at Trader Joe’s but if you don’t have those toast pine nuts on a small baking sheet at 300 degrees for 5-7 minutes, until they turn golden. Set aside to cool.

If you have a rice cooker cook the quinoa in that (otherwise use stovetop method) according to package directions.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and salt in a measuring cup stirring well.  When the quinoa has cooked, transfer it to a large bowl and stir occasionally to release the heat while you are chopping up other ingredients.  When the quinoa is still warm but not hot pour the lemon/olive oil mixture over the quinoa and stir to mix thoroughly.  Add cilantro, scallions, jalapeno, sweet pepper, black beans, and pine nuts to quinoa and toss again.  Best served at room temperature.[/print_this]

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