Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad

Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad with Cilantro and Lime Vinaigrette

Inspiration for meals can come from many different places. This black bean and corn salad was inspired by the bunch of beautiful cilantro that came in my first vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture) box this season.

Fresh cilantro, also known as coriander

Cilantro is often used in Mexican food. So is corn.  I have some sweet, incredibly tasty corn in my freezer from a local farm.  The corn was processed at the farm right after it was picked last summer and it tastes just like corn on the cob at the peak of the season.  I knew I had to use it for this dish.

I chose black beans and bell peppers to round out the salad. For the vinaigrette, I chose limes.  Limes, cilantro and corn.  You can’t go wrong with that combination.  And so this Mexican inspired black bean and corn salad was born.

During the summer, I love serving salads as a meal. On a hot day, I don’t want to slave over a hot stove or turn on the oven.  Salads are a great alternative.  There is no need to be limited to leafy green salads, as this black bean and corn salad shows. It’s packed with protein and fibre, so makes for a satisfying meal.  I served mine in tortilla bowls, making it really feel like a meal.  Alternately, you could forego the tortilla bowls and serve it as a side to accompany grilled meat or tacos.

I highly recommend squeezing your own fresh lime juice for this vinaigrette.  I always keep a few limes in the fridge, because fresh lime juice has such a nice flavour compared to bottled.

A quick tip to get the most juice out of your citrus fruit, in this case, the limes.  Take your limes out of fridge a few hours before you need them (you can even take them out in the morning before going to work) to let them get to room temperature.  Before cutting limes to juice them, roll them between your palm and the counter, gently pushing down.  This technique will produce much more juice than if you use cold limes.

 

Recipe: Mexican Inspired Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad inspired by the flavours of Mexico

Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (60 mL) lime juice (from 2 to 3 large limes)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Squeeze lime juice into medium size bowl, removing any seeds. Add cumin, paprika, chili powder and salt. Whisk.
  2. While still whisking, gradually pour in olive oil and whisk until well blended.

 

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup corn kernels
  • 1 can (19 oz, 540 mL) black beans, no salt added
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced small
  • 4 green onions (scallions) white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 cups packed cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • Lime vinaigrette
  • Tortilla bowls, optional

Directions:

  1. If using frozen corn, add ½ cup water to small pot. Add corn and bring water to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let corn cool to room temperature.
  2. In large bowl, add black beans, peppers, onions, cilantro and corn. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Stir lime vinaigrette and pour into salad bowl. Toss until all ingredients evenly coated.
  4. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving, so that ingredients absorb flavour of vinaigrette.
  5. If serving as a main dish, serve salad in tortilla bowls.

 

Quinoa Recipe – Greek Quinoa Salad

gluten free greek quinoa salad

Quinoa is a very “in” food at the moment.  Everywhere I look, I see quinoa.  I see quinoa recipes all over the net.  I see it on the dinner plate of friends and family.  It is even present at the salad bar in my building’s cafeteria.  Quinoa has definitely hit the mainstream.

As part of my goal to eat more whole grains and a greater variety of whole grains, this winter I decided it was time to give quinoa a try.  My favorite result so far is this Greek Quinoa Salad.

Although quinoa is new to me, it is in fact a very ancient food.  It was domesticated in the South American Andes 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and became a staple in the diet of people of that region.

ancient grains quinoa

Quinoa is treated as a grain and is often ground into flour.  Despite this, it is a seed, not a grain.  The quinoa plant is closely related to beets, spinach and Swiss chard.

One of quinoa’s most interesting nutritional values is its protein content.  Quinoa is higher in protein than most cereals, although not as high as beans and legumes.  Unlike most cereals, quinoa has complete protein, as it contains all essential amino acids.  It is also a source of iron and of several B vitamins.

So far I’ve been using quinoa in salads.  I’ve been trying out different types of grain salads and legume salads to include in our lunches.  At work Greg does not have access to a refrigerator or a microwave.  What he brings needs to be safe for consumption if only cooled with a small ice pack. It must also taste good eaten cool or at room temperature.  This Greek quinoa salad fits the bill, and tastes great too.

As a bonus, this salad is gluten-free.  Neither Greg nor I have issues with gluten, but my sister and her two children are both gluten intolerant.  This Greek quinoa salad can make an appearance at family gatherings (we always share the responsibility of bringing food) and everyone can partake.  It’s also a great substitute for a Greek pasta salad to bring to potlucks, especially if you don’t know what food sensitivities others might have.

Greek Vinaigrette

greek vinaigrette recipe

I love the fresh flavours of Greek vinaigrette.  It feeds my obsession with fresh herbs and garlic, and the lemon brightens the flavour.  Greg also enjoys Greek salad, so this is a win-win.

Greek Quinoa Salad rceipe with vinaigrette

I’ve also discovered a new product recently that I love in this vinaigrette.  It’s part of the President’s Choice (PC) Black Label collection.  It’s a grape condiment that I am using in the place of red wine vinegar. It is called Lambrusco Grape Condiment. I find it smoother and sweeter than red wine vinegar.  If you are able to find this product, I recommend that you give it a try.  If you don’t have access to this product, red wine vinegar absolutely works too.

 

Recipe:  Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Vinaigrette – makes about ½ cup

Greek Vinaigrette for greek quinoa salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons PC Lambrusco grape condiment or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Put all ingredients in small bowl and whisk well.

 

Greek Quinoa Salad – makes 2 meal or 4 side servings

Greek Quinoa Salad - gluten-free salad

Ingredients

  • ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • Greek vinaigrette to taste (recipe above)
  • 1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the taste of those packed in oil)
  • 2” piece English cucumber, chopped

Directions

  • Place quinoa in fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water, rubbing quinoa together. This is to remove any remaining saponins in the quinoa, which creates a bitter taste.
  • Bring one cup water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Add quinoa to water and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes, keeping pot covered.
  • Fluff quinoa and add it to a medium size bowl. Add Greek vinaigrette and stir to coat quinoa.
  • Add Kalamata olives, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and cucumber. Toss salad to mix ingredients.
  • Refrigerate to 30 to 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

 

Have you discovered quinoa?  If so, what is your favorite quinoa dish?

 

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