Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quinoa, Red Pepper, and Cucumber Salad With Avocado and Lime

2013 is the "International Year of Quinoa" according to The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

I have declared it as my "Official Staple for Summer."

Quinoa, "keen-wah," is usually thought of as a whole grain but it is actually a seed. However, it is prepared like a whole grain, such as rice or barley. It is quick to cook (15-20 minutes), and apparently has the highest protein content of all the whole grains. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is also gluten free (GF) and cholesterol free for all you healthy heart friends out there (source: Reader's Digest).

All these amazing benefits are an added perk because really I love this stuff. I initially started serving quinoa by sneaking it into the brown or white rice we ate usually with dinner two times a week. I would add half a cup of quinoa and half of cup of rice (rinsing both before cooking), then two cups of water...let's just say the family grew on the taste of quinoa. It tastes delicious by itself, with a little olive oil and salt...or, 
my FAVORITE SALAD OF THE SUMMER...the title of this post! 

Quinoa, Red Pepper, and Cucumber Salad With Avocado and Lime from Yoga Journal

Have you been to my house this summer for a play date? BBQ? Block party? You have seen this salad and probably thought it looked strange and chose to not try it. I hope you tried it though. I may have made you because seriously I LOVE THIS SALAD from Yoga Journal. I eat it almost every day for lunch. Not kidding! I try to make it on Sundays and it is really good and stays fresh for at least five days. And then when I host a play date, I know I have something yummy for the moms! By day six it has been consumed at my house. 

Of course I found this salad through Pinterest and had to try it over Mother's Day weekend when my in-laws were visiting. These days I usually don't have a ripe avocado on hand, but when I do, it's a bonus. I add baby tomatoes, baby (chopped) spinach, garbanzo beans, artichoke hearts...really you can put anything that sounds yummy to you in this salad. 

The original recipe is wonderful and almost perfect. I personally do not like a lot of olive oil in my dressings so I am really light with it. I think 1/4 c. is plenty. I add extra lime juice instead. Oh and I always add an extra fresh diced jalapeno because I love the spice. As mentioned above, add whatever you think sounds delicious, summery, and fresh and you have the perfect lunch or dinner. The kids and I are usually out and about a few times a week so it also makes the perfect salad to travel with as I'm not a big sandwich eater. I have my salad and I feel so happy and satisfied with every delicious bite! 

Since this salad came into my life, I've branched out and tried other quinoa salads. But, I always come back to this one for lunch. I hope you try it and love it, too! 

P.S. Even Costco is selling quinoa now! It's pre-washed and organic but I still give it a rinse and rub the seeds between my fingers to wash away any shells? pods? casings? IDK!



Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Kosher salt
1 cup quinoa
1 garlic clove, pounded to a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
3 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red pepper, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1 small- to medium-sized cucumber, peeled and seeded, if necessary, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
2 to 3 ripe avocados, sliced


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Rinse quinoa under cool running water, lightly rubbing it between your fingers for a few seconds. Add it to the boiling water and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the quinoa well and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
2. Put the garlic, shallot, jalapeño, and lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and whisk to combine. Taste; add more salt or lime, if necessary.
3. Put quinoa, red pepper, cucumber, and chopped cilantro in a medium bowl. Drizzle about half the vinaigrette into the bowl and gently fold to combine. Taste; add more salt, vinaigrette, or lime juice, if needed.
4. Arrange the sliced avocado on a platter or individual serving plates. Season the avocado with salt and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top. Spoon the quinoa salad on and around the avocado. Garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Source: Yoga Journal 


  1. Yum, I love quinoa too! Thanks, I'm totally going to make this!

  2. Yum, I love quinoa too! Thanks, I'm totally going to make this!

  3. I tried it and I loved it, too! I'd also like to request for you to post more of your awesome recipes, because that would be great! Xoxo