If you would have asked Paul five years ago whether he had ever tried quinoa, he would have replied: "Keen...what?!"
Shortly after we were married, Paul and I began shopping at the Whole Foods Co-op here in town. They have a magnificent bulk section that houses a huge variety of grains, flours, spices, dried fruits, and nuts. It is essentially a treasure trove for the adventurous baker. Paul and I were unfamiliar with some of the items they sold there, including couscous, polenta, kamut, and quinoa. Over the next couple weeks, we decided to buy a few bags of these items and then find recipes to try. Now, some of our favorite side and main dishes are based around these ingredients. And one of our favorite sandwich breads is a Honey Kamut, which I will share soon!
Out of all the new and exciting ingredients we discovered, none has been quite as popular with us as quinoa. Both Paul and I absolutely adore quinoa. Quinoa is a grain-like crop that is actually a close relative of beets and spinach. It has an extremely high protein content and is also an excellent source of fiber. It was apparently an important staple in some pre-Colombian civilizations, second only to the potato. Interesting!
This salad is our absolute favorite way to use quinoa. I will be sure to post some other recipes for it in the future, but I figured that I might as well start with the most delicious one! Mangoes, black beans, red bell pepper, and a tangy lime vinaigrette - this salad is incredibly refreshing, satisfying, and does not leave you feeling like a pile of bricks. The best part about it? It can be made entirely ahead of time - just pull it out of the fridge and serve!
Unfortunately, quinoa kind of freaks Matthew out a bit...so he will only eat the black beans and the mangoes. We'll keep working on him. The little goofball.
If you are unfamiliar with quinoa, give this recipe a try! You might just fall in love with it as much as we have!
Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 ripe, sweet mangoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine the chicken broth and quinoa in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until all the water is absorbed and the germ has separated from the seed, about 15 minutes. Sometimes, if the quinoa still seems a bit wet, I uncover the saucepan and let everything cook for about 3-5 additional minutes to allow a little more of the liquid to evaporate. Fluff with the fork and set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables, beans, and mangoes. Combine everything in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and toss to combine. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!