Summer Quinoa Corn Salad with Feta and Basil

Hopefully you’ve had quinoa.  If you haven’t, trying it is a must.  It’s a small fluffy seed much like couscous with a mild nutty flavor.  It can be used in place of rice or couscous.  I discovered this little grain-like seed 2 years ago in my Anthropology of Eating class and haven’t looked back since.  It’s high in protein (12-18%) and contains essential amino acids making it a complete protein source- very rare among plant sources.  It’s a good source of fiber and is of course gluten free!  This dish combines sweet summer corn, salty feta and fresh basil that intermingle with sultry cumin and smoky chipotle.  Served warm, room temp or cold, it makes for a easy, versatile seasonal main or side dish.

Summer Quinoa Corn Salad with Feta and Basil
4 servings
Total Time: 25 minutes

• ½ cup dried, rinsed quinoa
• 3/4 cup chicken stock (sub vegetable stock)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ½ red onion, chopped
• 2 ears of fresh sweet corn, husk and silk removed
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 2 cups black beans, rinsed
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (or quartered cherry tomatoes)
• 1 lime, zested and juiced
• 4-6 oz feta cheese, coarsely crumbled, save some to garnish
• about 12 basil leaves, chiffonade, save some to garnish
• 1 avocado, diced
• 1 seeded, minced jalapeno (optional)

Bring 3/4 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  (Double the amount for leftover quinoa!)  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes until seeds have popped open exposing the cooked, tiny curled germ.  The seeds should yield a slight al dente bite like pasta.  Don’t overcook it!

Meanwhile, add butter and olive oil to a pan over medium low heat.  Add red onion and salt to taste and saute until translucent.  Cut corn kernels off cobs with a knife working over a bowl or bundt cake pan to catch the kernels.  Add corn, bell pepper, black beans, garlic, chipotle and cumin (add jalapeno if desired).  Add additional salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes to heat everything through.

Take pan off heat and mix in the cooked quinoa.  Fold in tomatoes, lime zest, lime juice, feta and basil.  Plate and top with avocado.  Garnish with basil and extra feta.

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