Nutritious and delicious, Corny Quinoa Salad will quickly become a summertime staple with its sweet pops of corn, earthy bell pepper, mild green onion, and zingy jalapeno lime vinaigrette.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah, not Quinn-O-AH, as I say it to myself when spelling it out) has been enjoying the limelight in the healthy food world alongside other nutritious noshes like chia seeds and cauliflower. I’m not one to jump on health food bandwagons, especially with unfamiliar (or unpronounceable) products. After all, healthy food is only worth incorporating into your diet if it tastes good or you can easily make it taste good. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Quinoa piqued my curiosity because I assumed it would be similar in flavor and utility to brown rice, but lighter. My assumptions of the quirky pseudo-grain (technically, quinoa is a seed) were correct. Quinoa has a fun, fluffy texture and nutty flavor, making it a great base for grain salads or serving as a substitute for rice (think: stir-fry veggies over quinoa). Make sure you rinse it before cooking or it’ll wind up bitter-tasting. And salting and/or otherwise flavoring the water it cooks in doesn’t hurt :).
Corny Quinoa Salad is a nom-worthy way to sneak in some serious nutrition. It’s light, well-balanced and the jalapeno lime vinaigrette is damn delicious. The best part is that this salad holds up well, even days later. I happily ate this salad on days 3 and 4 without complaint – no excess of liquid pooling at the bottom of the container and no soggy, sad vegetables. It makes a perfect side dish to accompany grilled proteins or incorporated into a fun main dish, like a taco salad (hello dinner last night!).
This recipe was adapted from Quinoa, Black Bean, and Mango Salad found in the cookbook The Best Mexican Recipes: Kitchen-Tested Recipes Put the Real Flavors of Mexico Within Reach (which is a fantastic cookbook! This is an affiliate link so I’ll get a ‘lil $$ if you purchase said fantastic cookbook).
If you like Corny Quinoa Salad, I think you’ll like:
- For the Salad
- 1 cup dried white quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (15 ounce) can of corn, drained
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
- 5 green onions, finely sliced (feel free to include some of the green tops)
- For the Vinaigrette
- 5 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice (or about 2 small limes)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (use a good quality EVOO with a mild flavor)
- Optional garnishes
- Crumbly cheese
- Red pepper flakes
- Add 2 cups of water, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 cup of rinsed white quinoa to a pot.
- Bring to a boil.
- Immediately reduce heat to low and cover.
- Cook for around 15 minutes, or until there is no more water in the pot. Remove from heat.
- Spread the quinoa out on a sheet tray to cool.
- Add 5 tablespoons lime juice, 1 seeded jalapeno, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon dried basil to a blender. Blend for 15-20 seconds. Check to make sure the jalapeno is nicely pulverized. If not, blend for a few more seconds.
- Hit blend again and slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, blending for 20-30 seconds to emulsify.
- Add cooled quinoa, corn, bell pepper, and green onions to a bowl. Pour half of the vinaigrette into the bowl and gently stir a few times to combine. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and stir a few more times.
- Serve with garnishes like crumbly cheese or red pepper flakes, if desired.
- For best results, let chill 2 hours before serving. Keeps in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.