Spring - the season for hearty salads.
Summer is all about fresh and light, winter is too darn cold for any kind of salad (I'm not the only person who finds salads in cold weather completely unsatisfying, right?) but spring - glorious, temperate spring - is the right time for a healthy salad with substance.
Something that's a complete meal. Something that will make other people ooohh and aaahh, rather than looking like you left the other (better...) part of your lunch at home. And because we all know I'm obsessed with Mexican flavours, I give you my latest food crush: the Southwest Quinoa Salad.
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This salad has most of what I'm looking for in a meal now that I'm on maternity leave (or as my husband calls it: my baby holiday. Yeah, I'm slowly poisoning his food. But anyway..) - it's quick to throw together, bursting with flavour, packed with protein to keep me full, and can be eaten with one hand while rocking and patting a stubborn child who refuses to sleep in their cot. #mumlife
It's based on a salad I saw by the incredible Pinch of Yum, whose recipes are a big part of the reason I go to bed at 10pm but stay up on Pinterest until 11:30. And when I say based on I mean it could actually be identical because I kinda didn't read the recipe, I just saw the picture and knew I had to have that combo in my life.
Southwest is a fusion of South American, Native American and Mexican flavours popular in the Southwest of the USA - a bit like regular Mexican but with more spices and less heat. Black beans and quinoa are full of protein, the avocado dressing is zingy and fresh, and the pickled jalapenos are optional but not really because they make everything awesome. It's a bowl of Mexican-inspired, high protein, low-GI goodness that's a perfect way to welcome the warmer weather.
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If you're really looking to bam up the protein then some shredded cooked chicken would complement this nicely, it would also make a fantastic taco/burrito filling or nacho topping. You could even serve it in a lettuce cup on a stinking hot night for a no-cook dinner. Southwest Quinoa Salad - your versatile new spring salad.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
1 large sweet potato
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 cos lettuce, shredded
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups corn kernels (tinned or frozen - both are fine)
1 x 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos (or more to taste)
1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with on-stick paper.
2) Peel sweet potato and cut into large-ish (approx 2cm by 2cm) chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle over spices and mix to evenly coat the potato.
3) Spread potato over baking tray in a single layer, then bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
4) Meanwhile, blend avocado, coriander, lime juice and zest, garlic and ground coriander with approximately 1 tablespoon of water until a smooth dressing forms. Add a little more water if the dressing is too thick, then season with salt and pepper and set aside.
5) Place shredded lettuce on a large platter, then top with quinoa, corn, beans and pickled jalapenos.
6) Drizzle with avocado dressing and serve.
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