Tropical Quinoa Salad.

The most difficult thing about cooking Quinoa is knowing how to pronounce it.

Forget the Q, the U, and the O. It’s pronounced Keen-wah.

Don’t ask. I have no idea why.

I do know that it’s incredibly versatile, easy to prepare, tasty and full of good things.

Quinoa is a grain that is one of those super foods –a bit odd that it’s high in protein.

While it has a nutty flavor, you can pair it with just about anything you like or have on hand to create a healthy and tasty salad or side dish.

We’re going tropical with this batch of quinoa and adding juicy mangos, black beans, and lime.

Here’s what you need:

Quinoa, Mangos, Cucumber, Black Beans, Parsley, Lime, Bell Pepper, Honey, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.

Click HERE for a Tropical Quinoa Salad Shopping List

Quinoa cooks just like you cook rice. Pour 1 cup of Quinoa into 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil over high heat.

When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low, put a lid on the pot, and simmer bubbling gently for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed into the grains.

When the quinoa is done, you can see that it puffs up a bit and becomes fluffy.

Let the quinoa cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

You can customize this dish to include any veggies that you like. Choose things that are crunchy, have varying colors, flavors and textures….like a cucumber.

I prefer to remove the seeds from most cucumbers. You can do that easily by cutting the peeled cucumber into quarters and then running your knife along the edge to cut away the seeds.

Cut the spears into strips and then cut the strips into bite sized pieces.

Mangos! Sweet and juicy. Look for mangos that are slightly soft when pressed lightly. Most of the mangos at my store are rock hard so I buy them a few days ahead and let them hang out on the counter with the bananas to ripen.

If you’ve never cut a mango, they can be a little weird. They have a big oblong pit in the center so you have to slice a disc of mango away on each side of the pit.

Take each disc and cut a checkerboard into the mango with a small sharp knife being careful not to cut all the way through the skin.

Now turn the mango inside out to pop the little squares up so that you can cut them off the outer peel.

Cut the little cubes of mango off and add them the a large mixing bowl with the cucumber. Be sure you cut your mango cubes over the bowl to catch all the good juice.

After you’ve cut the little cubes off the mango discs, go back to the core, remove the peel, and cut any extra fruit you can away from the pit.

For more crunch finely chop one bell pepper – any color will do. Or you could add celery. Or both.

Finely chop about 1/4 cup of fresh parsley and add even more greenery to your quinoa.

Drain and rinse one 14 ounce can of black beans and add them to the salad.

For a little zip, grate the zest of one lime into the bowl. Remember to only zest the very outer green parts of the lime.

By now your quinoa should have cooled enough to add it to the bowl without wilting the vegetables.

Unlike rice, quinoa doesn’t absorb a ton of extra liquid once it’s cooked. Therefore you can use a very light dressing on your quinoa salad.

I like to build the dressing right into the salad rather than making it separately. You can taste and add a little more of this and that as you go.

Give the salad a stir to mix it all together then squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 limes (about 3 Tablespoons) onto the salad.

Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of honey right in there…

and then add about 2 Tablespoons of good olive oil.

You can see that I’m not even measuring. Quinoa doesn’t have to be super precise.

Season with salt and pepper. I used about 1 teaspoon of pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Stir it together, give it a quick taste and adjust any seasonings you like. I added just a pinch more salt and  half a lime for more juice.

If you like things spicy, a dash or two of hot sauce might also be fun. I really want to taste the mangos so I leave this dressing pretty simple.

Just look at all those good things! Quinoa and beans have fiber and protein. Mangos and veggies have flavor and vitamins galore.

You can eat this right away or it’s even better if it sits in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can blend together.

The best thing about this salad? It’s great cold or at room temperature. I’m on the go this week and this salad has saved me from eating grody fast food in my car.

Pack a lunch. Pack a picnic. Eat quinoa!

Here’s the recipe:

Tropical Quinoa Salad

A Public Service Announcement…or two:  I’m slightly obsessed with quinoa right now so you’ll be seeing more variations on quinoa salads in the days to come. Hopefully that will off-set the incredibly delicious but bad for you breakfast that I’ll be posting next week. It’s all about balance — or so I’ve been told.

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