A delicious and healthy Southwest Quinoa Salad with a flavorful cilantro-lime vinaigrette, black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, red onion, pepper, and avocado.
QUINOA: I recommend cooking the quinoa in a chicken or vegetable broth for extra flavor (don't forget to rinse it really well before cooking). Once the quinoa is cooked transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.
LETTUCE: Wash and chop the lettuce. I like to cut the lettuce into ribbons and halve the ribbons -- thinner salad pieces allow for more surface area that the quinoa and dressing can adhere to. Use a salad spinner to ensure the lettuce is 100% dry before adding to the quinoa. Toss the cooled quinoa and washed/chopped lettuce together.
VEGGIES: Dice the red onion (Note 1), chop the green pepper, drain and rinse black beans, prepare the corn (Note 2), halve the cherry tomatoes and add all to the salad. Remove the pit and peel of the avocado, chop it, and add it to the salad.
DRESSING: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor except for the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper). Pulse until ingredients are combined and then drizzle in olive oil last and quickly pulse until emulsified. Don't overmix/pulse/blend the olive oil or it can create a metallic flavor. Taste and adjust any seasonings to personal preference.
ENJOY: If eating the salad immediately, pour the dressing over, toss the salad, and top with cheese (if desired and to taste preference).
STORAGE: If you aren't eating the salad immediately or don't plan on it being finished after one sitting, do not dress the entire salad. ONLY add dressing, avocado, and cheese to portions of the salad that will be finished promptly after dressing. Store leftovers salad, avocado, and dressing separately otherwise salad becomes soggy.
Note 1: if desired, you can take away the "bite" of the red onion by soaking the chopped red onion in cold water and soaking for 5-10 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly before adding to the salad.
Note 2: grab some frozen corn and thaw and then saute in a skillet OR grill fresh corn. To grill fresh corn: Preheat a grill to medium high heat, around 400 degrees F. Once hot, clean the grill grates. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Pour about 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil on each corn cob and rub that oil into all the sides. Very lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the corn. Place corn on grill grates (nothing needs to go down first/don't wrap in foil) and close grill. Allow to cook (temps remaining at 400 degree F) for about 3 minutes per side undisturbed. Using tongs, rotate and continue cooking, for about 12 minutes total. When all sides are browned, remove from the grill onto a plate. Cut off the cob once cool!