Yes, another salad. That seems to be almost all I’m writing about these days, but then again, people, I’m afraid you’re pretty much subjected to reading about what I’m eating (assuming you don’t just move on to another blog that’s featuring steak).
Now, when I say “salad” I’m not talking about some greens mincing about in a bowl with a slick of dressing. Oh no, I’m talking about hearty, one-dish-serves-as-dinner meals. Easy to make, super easy to serve … perfect fare in the summer when there are lots of other things to do, like painting a new screen door for the back porch, playing with the Little Misses at the park, going to the beach, or just lazing about listening to the birds and watching the pillowy white clouds floating through the blue sky (not that there’s been much of that going on around here lately).
So, getting back to the topic at hand, how about this salad? Bright colours, popping flavours and a medley of textures … what more could you want for dinner? Oh, and it happens to be rockin’ nutritious too, you know, what with the quinoa and the beans and all those veggies. I love adding mango to a salad like this (or peaches would be good too, now that they’re coming into season here). Yes, the fruit adds more good-for-you-ness, but never mind that. It’s the surprising hit of sweetness that makes it seem as if you’re eating something a little decadent and dessert-like for dinner. Ooh, the rebellious side of salad.
Red Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Mango
LIke all salad recipes, this one is infinitely variable and how you make it will depend not only on your preferences but also on what’s lounging about in your refrigerator. I’ve made it twice already. The first time I didn’t have any cilantro, so I used chives and mint for herbal brightness, and for the dressing I used olive oil instead of avocado oil. Like much in life, it all depends …
A note about the avocado: I slice it, toss it in lime juice and a bit of black pepper and serve it on the side with the salad. You could cut the slices into thirds and stir them into the salad, but I simply like the look of them better beside the salad.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion (red or white)
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 4-inch length of English cucumber, diced
- 1 medium mango, diced
- 19 oz (540 ml) can of black beans, rinsed
- 1-1/2 cups cooked red quinoa
- a couple of handfuls of cilantro, finely chopped (or a handful of chives and 4 or 5 mint leaves, chopped)
- 2 avocados, halved and sliced
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- freshly ground black pepper
Soak the chopped onion in a small dish of cold water while you are preparing the rest of the salad ingredients (this cuts their sharpness while retaining the onion flavour). Combine the rest of the ingredients except for the avocado, lime juice and pepper in a large bowl. Drain and add the onion. Toss together, then dress with the dressing below. Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.
Gently toss the avocado slices with the lime juice and a grinding of black pepper. Set aside until ready to garnish the plated salads.
This dressing might seem heavy on the lime juice, and I suppose it is, but grains and beans can take a more acidic dressing than greens. They seem to absorb the citrusy tang, and I usually find I have to add a little more to achieve the right flavour. If you let the salad sit in the refrigerator before serving, always taste and adjust the seasonings first, including the lime juice.
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (if you get some pulp in it so much the better, in my opinion)
- 1 fat clove of garlic, finely minced (I use a rasp to achieve consistent fineness; I don’t care for chunks of raw garlic)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or a jar, and whisk (or shake) until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remember, this relatively small amount of dressing is going to adorn a big salad, so the flavours need to be quite bold.