I have a thing for colorful food. I mean, look at that picture. The red, yellow, black, and green contrasted against the tan – how could you not want to eat it? Beautiful? Check. Healthy? Check check. It’s perfect. Well, hopefully my coworkers agree because this is my contribution to salad/soup group this week. We’ll find out tomorrow.
You know what helps add color to all my foods? Balanced meals. While running my first 5k today (more like a run/walk, but hey, I finished. baby steps), I was talking to my coworker about food (per usual) and realized that I’m really funny about the composition of my meals. For every meal that I eat I need a protein, a carb, and some sort of vegetable or fruit. Every one. I think in terms of this when I go to the grocery store – ok I have my meat, now I need rice/pasta/bread.. ok… now I need a vegetable that is a different color than the other two… ok. Done.
Some times this results in cheese, crackers, a seasoned avocado, and some salami. A meal doesn’t feel complete without having all three elements – like I know I’ll still be hungry if I’m missing something. And it doesnt look right to me if I dont have a bunch of different colors. Does that make sense? Surprisingly this started way before I took pictures of some of my meals. I did read an article in Food and Wine magazine that said the best way to add nutrients to your meal is to add colors. But I think it’s my mom’s influence (Happy Mothers day!). She’s always been very good about a balanced meal with healthy colorful foods too.
Quinoa is one of those ingredients that was unfamiliar to me before soup/salad group. It’s been popping up everywhere in my food magazines so I thought I’d give it a try. Now let me just say that I had absolutely no idea how to cook it. I saw the instructions list on epicurious and that seemed ok, but I didnt really feel like steaming the quinoa (and I dont have a sieve to cook with). So I googled around for a bit and found that I could use my rice cooker. I’m sure it would have been ‘fluffier” if I steamed it, but I liked it this way. The salad dressing, beans, corn, and bell pepper breaks the grains up nicely on its own.
p.s. I have quite an exciting week ahead. Started off today with my first 5k race in Somerville, Tuesday some of my coworkers and I are going to a Red Sox game , Thursday I’m cruising the Boston Harbor on the VinoVoyage, and last, but most certainly not least, I’m going to New York City for the weekend!! Oh, the endless food possibilities! I think it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to Monday (and I dont say that very often).
Black Bean Quinoa Salad
adapted from Gourmet
1 1/2 c quinoa
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño chile, minced (remove the seeds for milder flavor)
1/4 c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
5 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbs Sherry vinegar (or red-wine vinegar), or to taste
To make in a rice cooker (this is how I made it):
1. Rise the quinoa thoroughly in warm water until the water runs clear, 4-6 times.
2. Place the quinoa in the rice maker with the water and turn on the rice maker, about 20 minutes.
3. After the rice cooker has turned off, place a towel over the rice maker and under the lid after it is done cooking for 5-10 minutes. This will help make the quinoa fluffier.
To make on a stove (instructions from epicurious):
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook quinoa for 10 minutes.
2. Drain quinoa and rinse under cold water.
3. Place a sieve over a pot of boiling water covered with a kitchen towel and lid, and steam quinoa until fluffy for approximately 10 minutes.
While waiting for quinoa to cook, wisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Once quinoa is finished, transfer to a large bowl. Add corn, beans, dressing, and cilantro. Mix well.
This can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.