January 28, 2022

A la Carte: Savor Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn and Tomatoes

Mexican quinoa salad

This year out boules group will play a few more games than our usual seven or eight parties. For those of us who no longer have courts of our own, and I am one of those, I could use all the extra play I can get.

The first couple of years, all our games were pot luck. Not only were some of the members amazing players (many of our French players had been playing since childhood) and many of those same players were way beyond the rest of us when it came to cooking (Jacques Pepin, Claude Martin, Jean-Michel Scammarello) and Jean Pierre Vuillermet, Michel Nishan, Priscilla Martel and Charlie Van Over),. The parties became incredible food memories.

This year will probably be the same, but, as I mentioned, with more league play, there will be a few more pot luck dinners. Since I am among the not-so-terrific players and far from the best cooks, pot luck is my métier, to put a French lick on it.

For my teams, Marla is our captain and she has to heed to a gluten-free menu, which means there are many dishes she can’t even taste. For our first pot luck game in mid-July, I am making a salad that includes quinoa, black beans, sweet corn and fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. The fact that I love all these ingredients will make me as happy as Marla. I am tripling the recipe so that it will serve at least 15 people.

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn and Tomatoes

Adapted from SimplyRecipes.com, by Elise Bauer

3 cups uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
1 cup diced red onion
6 tablespoons lime juice
3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups frozen corn or 3 cups fresh corn kernels parboiled, drained and cooled
9 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks (grape tomatoes, halved, would be good, too)
12 ounces queso fresco or fresh mozzarella cut into one-quarter or one-half inch cubes
2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
One-half cup chopped cilantro, including tender stems, packed
One-quarter cup olive oil (or your own vinaigrette)*

Put rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it call more quickly.

While quinoa is cooking, prepare rest of the salad: soak red onions I lime juice and set aside (soaking onions in lime juice helps take the edge of the onions.) Mix prepped beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro and oil (or vinaigrette) into a large bowl.

When quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bean mixture. Add onions and lime juice, add salt, more oil or time to taste. Serve at room temperature.

*If you would like my own vinaigrette (which makes a lot and will keep in refrigerator for a month, e-mail me at leeawhite@aol.com.