Quinoa-Veg Protein

Quinoa is a nearly perfect food for Vegetarians.  It’s super high in protein and amino acids, takes on the taste that you give it, otherwise, it’s just a nutty flavor with a funny texture, quick to make, easily mixed in with salads-hot and cold, and can even, my friend Andrea claims, be eaten like oatmeal for breakfast.  She prefers blueberries and maple syrup on her breakfast quinoa.  I however, am not totally convinced of the merits of breakfast quinoa, but I’ll try anything once.  I’ve been on a bender in the kitchen where I try to make dishes out of whatever I have in the cupboard, trying like crazy to avoid a trip to the store or farm market.  I happened to have everything on hand for this yummy salad.  As a bonus, for the “meat” I grilled up some bbq pressed tofu steaks.  Tastes likes summer.
Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad
*adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious.com original link listed below
  • 2 limes grated zest
  • 2 limes juice
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 packet (tsp) Splenda
  • 1/4 tsp oregano (1 tsp if using fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne or 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked and cooled)
  • 2 Cups black beans, cooked, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint super sweet tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces (I used cherry tomatoes from my garden)
  • 1/2 C corn niblets, either off the cob or frozen
  • 4 scallions, chopped-green part only
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook and cool quinoa according to package directions, which I always forget, but since I made it a few days ago, it’s 2 c water bring to boil, add 1 C RINSED quinoa, cover, adjust heat to simmer and basically wait until all the liquid is absorbed, sometimes it’s 15 minutes sometimes for a cup of quinoa I’ve waited 30 minutes, but one thing is for sure, watery quinoa is just BAD.  So take your time.

While that is cooking on the stove, combine with a whisk or in a canning jar like I do and just shake it together, oregano, cayenne, cumin, evoo, lime zest and juice (add a pinch of salt)-this is your dressing for the salad.  I doubled this and will use the rest for mexican rice this weekend as a side dish for the lentil tacos I’ll talk about soon.

In a festive bowl, combine cooled quinoa, beans, corn, tomatoes and toss.  If you are serving right away, add some dressing to taste.  If you are not, then wait and dress just before serving so it doesn’t get all mushy.

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For the tofu steaks I talked about in my intro, press one block of tofu for a few hours till most of the excess liquid has been removed.  Cut in half the long way the block, so you have two thin steaks.  Fire up the grill, toss the steaks on, flip once add bbq sauce to the side with the grill marks, then flip again and add sauce to the other side.  If you slather this with bbq sauce before you put it on the grill the sugars in the sauce will just cause the skin of the tofu to burn, so grill it half way, flip, dress with sauce, grill, flip, dress and serve. Feelin’ really frisky? Serve this tofu on a bun with a little sliced avocado and some grilled red onion.  Your guests won’t know the difference between this and grilled chicken if it’s on a bun, I swear.

Original recipe can be found here:  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Black-Bean-and-Tomato-Quinoa-238939#ixzz0t69WESWv

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