A Tale of Two Salads

I feel like it is hard to find really interesting salads that double as sides, not to mention filling and healthy. I came across two this month in two of my regular food magazine reads. One is made with quinoa, which is a grain dubbed the "super food" because it not only has fiber but is full of protein. It is a great alternative to pasta for those that can not eat gluten and perfect for vegans. I had never tried it before and I was impressed, my expectation of something so healthy was low. The other salad is made with honest to goodness rice and both salads have tons of fresh healthy ingredients mixed in. So I guess the point of this post is flavor and healthy ingredients combine to make two delicious salads that can be a staple in your kitchens this summer. And bonus is that you can make them in advance and they are great as leftovers (maybe even better the next day).

Southwest Rice and Corn Salad with Lime Dressing
Adapted from bon appetit May 2010
makes 8 side servings

1 cup long-grain white rice (you could also use brown)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (It was published using lemon juice, but I used lime because I prefer it, use what you love!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup chopped fresh poblano chile's or green pepper (about 1 pepper)
1 cup diced seeded yellow bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
1 cup 1/2 inch cubes yellow zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
1 avocado, halved, peeled and diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 5)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded, cored and finely diced (add if you like a little more heat)
1 tablespoon green Tabasco (It is my secret ingredient and makes everything taste a little bit better :)

Cook rice according to package instructions until just tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again. Or if you have some time, spread on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and Tabasco (if using) in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add avocado, green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno (if using) to dressing. Toss so avocado is covered with dressing and does not brown.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn, poblanos, yellow bell pepper, and zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are just tender, 6 to 7 minutes; scrape into the large bowl. Add rice to the bowl and toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper.

Sante Fe Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine May 2010
serves 4

3/4 cup quinoa (can be found in same aisle as the rice and grains)
1 1/2 cups water
Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil (I did not end up using this much oil, 4 would do it)
freshly ground pepper
One 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
One 3 oz jar of cocktail onions, drained, finely chopped (I know it seems strange, but it is amazing)

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Spread quinoa on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice, cumin, oil,and a good pinch of both salt and pepper. Pour the dressing into a large bowl, add the black beans, bell pepper, cilantro and cocktail onions. Scrape the quinoa into the bowl and toss everything to coat, seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

I added a little more lime to taste and green Tabasco to give it a little kick.


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