Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah," was a staple food of the Incas of South America during ancient times. Today, quinoa is slowly starting to gain popularity in America as people become more interested in their health and are looking for ways to add grains to their diet. Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain, but it is treated as a grain and can easily substitute for rice or other grains in most dishes. It has a higher protein content and more complete set of amino acids than many grains leading some to call it a "supergrain!" Although the cooked quinoa grains are soft and delicate, the crescent-shaped "tail" that forms along the outside from the external germ is crunchy, providing a unique and pleasurable texture. In this recipe, quinoa, black beans, corn and bell pepper are tossed with a cumin-lime dressing and chopped fresh cilantro creating a delicious Mexican-inspired dish that is perfect for any barbeque or picnic.
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
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1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans
1-1/2 cups corn, thawed if frozen
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Cooking Instructions

Wash the quinoa in several changes of cold water, until the water runs clear, and then drain well. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium in a saucepan. Add the drained quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked (10 to 15 minutes.)

Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro and toss well. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, cumin, garlic and salt. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil in a stream while whisking. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or keep covered in the refrigerator overnight (bring to room temperature before serving.)

Makes 4 to 6 servings



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Try using quinoa in place of rice in your favorite rice dishes for an exciting (and healthy) change of pace. For a super easy and tasty pilaf, cook onions and quinoa in butter or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and then simmer in vegetable stock until done.

Quinoa is coated with a resin called saponin which must be rinsed off before cooking. Although most quinoa is sold pre-rinsed, it is generally a good idea to rinse again at home to remove any powdery residue that may remain.

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