Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quin--WHAT?! Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad

by Anita

Some of you may be familiar with quinoa and some of you may run from it since you may not even know how to pronounce it. Well, it's a basic grain. Yup, just that simple.

So here's the foundation for you to get to know quinoa (per Wikipedia): "a species of goosefoot, is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetsspinach, and tumbleweeds."

Now that that is out of the way, I must say that I make quinoa just as I would when I crave pasta, rice, or potatoes (except for mashed potatoes, nothing compares to those). So hopefully that gives you a background if you are still nervous about the grain. It's much lighter overall than pasta or potatoes and it is packed with fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and it is also gluten free. Pretty damn awesome if you ask me! 

Since I have been attempting a "Real Food" challenge to remove processed foods from my diet, quinoa fits the bill for a great go-to recipe item. I found this great recipe for the power packed grain from the blog I have been following and created the dish for an Easter brunch. It stuck out like a sore thumb on the counter in the mix of the buttery, meaty, eggy, casserole dishes alongside the sweet and gooey breads galore on the remarkably glutenous day that it turned out to be for my extended family. However, the crowd was pleased with the dish...or that's what they told me.

This recipe is also easily doubled for a big BBQ, pot luck, or for your own selfish devouring. 



  • 2 cups water or chicken/vegetable stock 
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
  • ¼ pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper of any color, diced
  • OPTIONAL: 3/4 chopped dried fruit like raisins, apricots, dates, etc.
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (better quality than regular olive oil)


  1. Boil water or chicken/vegetable in a sauce pan to cook quinoa. Cook per directions on package.
  2. Toast pine nuts in a saute pan for 5 minutes or less on low to medium heat.
  3. Chop and dice cilantro and bell peppers.
  4. Mix all salad ingredients together with the cooked quinoa.
  5. In a separate, bowl or food storage container whisk together all dressing ingredients, slowly adding the extra virgin olive oil while whisking.
  6. Add the quinoa and added ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and mix thoroughly.
  7. Ready to eat? Serve as a side dish, add to a spinach salad, stuff into a pita with lettuce, or have as light snack. Keep stored in refrigerator up to 7 days for freshness. 8
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients for the quinoa salad: bell pepper, pine nuts, cilantro, and optional dried fruit.

Ingredients for the zesty and simple dressing: Extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, Dijon (honey if you want) mustard, garlic, salt.

Bell pepper slices...always good for snacking at every time of day.

My rough dice

The final "salad": cooked quinoa with a lime-cilantro dressing and tasty Mediterranean ingredients
I got so excited with the tantalizing flavors of this quick dish that I had an impromptu porch party with a few friends and made a 2nd batch within 30 minutes since I had everything already out. Let me know what type of fun items you use to change up your quinoa! Go and conquer the quinoa!

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