This quinoa salad recipe was inspired by a recent block party we had on our street.
There was a Cinco De Mayo theme, and the hosts promised pinatas for the kids, margaritas for the adults and games for everyone (but really I was sold with the margarita thing).
The only thing we were asked to bring was a dish to share.
With the vision of margaritas and live music waiting for me outside my door on a beautiful Sunday evening, I started brainstorming.
The result was this beautiful and delicious Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad!
When asked to bring a dish for a barbecue, dinner party or potluck, I almost always lean towards a salad. The reason is pretty selfish, actually.
I want something healthy to eat while I’m there.
While it’s more and more common to find healthy options at group gatherings, the usual suspects continue to be hot dogs, burgers, cheesy dips, chips, crackers and desserts.
It’s not that I wouldn’t eat those things if I had to. The problem is that I would eat ONLY those things if I had no other option.
I’ve found that the best strategy to keep my healthy lifestyle and feel good is to give myself healthy options to balance out the treats.
That means filling 80% of my plate with something healthy, and leaving the other 20% for that margarita and a few chips.
Once I knew I was making a salad, I had to decide on the base.
When I know food is going to sit on a table for a while or be made ahead of time, I immediately rule out spinach and lettuce as a base. They just wilt too quickly and end up with a poor texture.
Seriously, who wants wilted spinach on a hot summer day?
While kale is a great option, I had made this kale salad recently and was ready to try something new.
I also wanted to keep with the Cinco de Mayo theme, while adding a little protein to make it more of a full meal.
The answer? Quinoa!
Quinoa is a serious powerhouse of nutrition. It is one of the few foods that is considered a complete protein. This means it is made up of all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
It is also an amazing vegetarian source of protein and is packed with fiber, iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium and Vitamin E.
Most importantly for a dinner party or barbecue, it is sturdy, travels amazingly well and is a blank canvas for any add-ins or ingredients you want to include!
If your host is planning a lasagna, you could add tomatoes, parsley and garlic. If there is a Mediterranean theme, add mint, feta and cucumbers.
You get the idea :).
Knowing this potluck had a Mexican theme, I immediately thought of lime and cilantro. I had a bunch of fresh peppers to use up, and had recently seen fresh corn at the supermarket.
Done and done.
This quinoa salad is fresh and bright, but also gives a huge nutritional and protein punch with the quinoa! The lime gives it the perfect amount of zing to bring it all together.
I highly recommend using fresh corn as opposed to canned corn. I simply shuck the corn and then cut off the kernels. I put them in a roasting pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. If you can’t get fresh corn or its out of season, go for the frozen stuff over the canned. It’s usually more fresh and has less added salt! You could still roast it to give it that added flavor.
For added greens, you could serve leftovers over a bed of spinach or arugula, and you could always add organic cooked chicken or shrimp for an added protein boost.
Next time I’m definitely adding avocado, by the way!
I hope you love this salad as much as I did!
Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad Recipe – Fresh and Healthy!
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup fresh roasted corn 2-3 ears of corn
- 1 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 2 medium limes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool completely.
- Shuck your corn and cut off kernels. Roast the kernels for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool.
- Place quinoa in a large salad bowl.
- Whisk together dressing and pour over quinoa.
- Mix the cilantro, dressing and quinoa together until well incorporated.
- Layer the rest of the ingredients on top of the quinoa, and finish with a few more fresh cilantro leaves.
- Serve at room temperature.
- This can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 7 days.