Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

A few weeks ago, I quickly put this salad together for a work potluck. Thinking that it wouldn't go over very well, I decided not to take a very large bowl of the stuff. What was I thinking? To my delight, there was none left after lunch; the only thing that remained were friends asking for the recipe. I was thrilled! If you're one of those crazy people who loves to nourish your body with healthy wholesome foods, and gets even more excitement from sharing this love for food, well, then you can relate to how I felt at that moment. It was a success in helping spread my passion for wholesome foods. 


So what in the world is quinoa? Well first of all, if you have ever discussed it with someone who is familiar with this grain, you were probably like me and mispronounced it the first few times. Gosh I felt dumb the first time I did that. But how else do we learn? It is in fact pronounced keen-wah.

 Okay, now that we have that cleared up, we can move on to why I love including this nutrition-packed powerhouse in my diet. Quinoa, though technically a seed, is marketed as a gluten-free grain high in protein, rich in B vitamins, as well as all nine essential amino acids, making it a high-energy food. Because it's coated in a natural chemical compound called saponins, it is very important that quinoa be rinsed before cooking, otherwise it will taste bitter and have an off-taste. Of all the different whole grains, quinoa has to be one of the fastest cooking whole grains out there, ready in less than fifteen minutes, making it a great last-minute go-to when you forget to start the brown rice an hour before dinner is ready!

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Buttermilk Dressing

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 12 minutes, until translucent and little "tails" appear. Remove from heat, and "fluff" with a fork after 5 minutes.

For the Salad:

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced colored bell peppers (I like orange and red)
1 cup loosely packed, shredded fresh spinach
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 tsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the corn off the cob, and quickly sauté in olive oil for a few minutes, until corn is bright yellow. Combine remaining ingredients, including the cooked quinoa and set aside while preparing dressing.

For the Dressing:

1 small, ripe avocado
1 cup full-fat buttermilk
Juice of one lime
2 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. minced red onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. The dressing will be thick, you can thin it out with more buttermilk or water if desired.

Hope you're excited about including more whole foods in your diet!