Friday, June 1, 2012

Spicy Quinoa + Black Lentil Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Summer salad time is here, and for lunch the other day, we wanted to make one that was more of a meal. There's no cheese and no bread in this -- unless you have a warmed tortilla on the side, like one of us just had to have -- but the quinoa makes it pretty filling. The trick is Avocado Vinaigrette, something that you can't really place in the finished dish that adds so much flavor. 

We're liking black lentils so much better than black beans. The flavor is very similar, but they only take 20 minutes to cook and require no pre-soak. We've been using them in place of black beans for months in huevous rancheros, burritos, and alongside fajitas. They're even good outside of Mexican cuisine. Check out our literal use of black beluga lentils here.

Trying to keep things simpler in our cooking lately has been a nice challenge -- new idea, new cookbook daydreams? Possibly! This particular recipe takes a little more in terms of time and effort, but it's worth it since it ends up tasting really fresh and healthy. 

Spicy Quinoa + Black Lentil Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Pickled Red Onion (do ahead; recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups prepared black lentils (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 1/2 cups prepared quinoa (follow package instructions)
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup corn (cut away from the cob or frozen)
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Avocado Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

To prepare the lentils, bring 1 cup of broth or water to a boil in a medium pan and add 1/2 cup dry lentils. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Prepare quinoa at the same time. Toast the corn kernels in a dry pan over medium-high heat until they start to brown a little. Allow the quinoa, lentils, and corn to cool. In a large mixing bowl, toss the onion (minus the pickling liquid), lentils, quinoa, pepper, corn, chipotle, and cumin together with the avocado vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve on a bed of your favorite greens with sliced avocado, cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pickled Red Onion

1 cup diced red onion (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add the onion, vinegar, water sugar, and salt to a food storage container. Allow mixture to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. These are also great sliced for burgers or tacos.

Avocado Vinaigrette

1 cup cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 small fresh chili pepper (like a jalapeƱo)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 small avocado

1/4 cup olive oil

Place the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, chili pepper, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and the flesh of the avocado into the work bowl of your food processor. Blend until smooth. While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.


Eileen said...

Ooh, this sounds great--especially with the avocado dressing! I might make some of that and just dip in all the raw veg in the house. I've never had black lentils--must give them a try soon!

Anonymous said...

that sounds so delicious! avocado is such a superstar food! thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

would basil be an acceptable sub for the cilantro in the dressing?

Beth @ UnskinnyBoppy said...

I made this tonight as my first quinoa experience meal! I added panko breaded tilapia on top, though. :) I also added mango and rooster chili sauce to the avocado dressing. It was delicious. Thanks for sharing!

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

I think basil would be delish. Let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Delicious!!! Used orange bell peppers for extra color and ate over spinach - would have been great over arugula as in the pic. I didn't mix in the onions bit sprinkled them on top - wasn't sure if I was supposed to drain them before adding them in?

Anonymous said...

We make a similar and white quinoa, red and black lentils, red onion, celery, olive oil, salt/pepper....parsley if you have some fresh. Love it for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

This was really fantastic - i left out the corn, subbed basil for cilantro, subbed pearl couscous for quinoa and served with some oven-roasted tomatoes, as well as avocado and spinach. perfect meal!

Jenn Vincent said...

I agree that this salad is VERY yummy, and I would definitely make it for guests (in advance), but it involves a WHOLE LOTTA work! Nice for special occasion, though, and so healthy!

Unknown said...

This was sublime! My local grocer didn't have black lentils, so I subbed a can of rinsed and drained black beans. I was REALLY tempted to cut corners and just throw it together (like a few other similar salads we eat frequently)...SO glad I stayed the course! The onions pickled while I roasted the corn and cooked the quinoa. Hot things cooled while I threw the dressing goodies into the Ninja. Threw some spiced sweet potato chips in the oven sometime in there. Served the finished salad over a bed of spinach with a side of sweet potato chips. PERFECT! Worth every step. Looking forward to trying it with the lentils after a trip to WF. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This was delicious and light. Very appropriate for a summer evening.

Anonymous said...

Could you tell me how many portions this makes please?

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

Makes 4 servings.

ROJAK said...

wow this vegetarian food looks colorful.

Anonymous said...

OMG this was so freaking good..just finishing it up now lol! I subbed red wine vinegar for white and left out the salt--had over a mix of arugula and baby spinach! Perfect!