Ah, this salad. Fiery Fruit and Quinoa, a.k.a. this bleeping salad, from Terry Hope Romero's new vegan cookbook, Salad Samurai. I called it that every step along the way, with different intonations and intentions depending on where I was in the process. To be fair, I doubled the recipe to take to a party, so it entailed twice the prep. But, regardless, this salad will take you longer than the 30 minutes estimated. Assuming you've already cooked and chilled your quinoa the day before (which I highly recommend), you still have to make the spicy, orange-and-lime-juice-based Chia Chipotle dressing, toast pumpkin seeds, rinse black beans, shuck corn, chiffonade basil, and pick through enough cilantro to end up with 1 cup of it chopped. Then, you grill the peaches, red onion and corn; dice the now smoky and luscious peaches and onions; and slice the toasty kernels off the cobs. Whew. Finally, you toss it all together and dig into what is easily one of the best bleeping quinoa salads you'll ever have.
Why I picked this recipe: I adore grilled fruit, and everything else in this salad for that matter.
What worked: This bleeping salad. And there were several points along the way when I wasn't sure it was going to. I thought there was too much dressing, and that the chia in the dressing would make the whole thing a little slimy. Nope, the quinoa soaked up all that fabulous, smoky flavor, and the chia added a little body, but not enough to make it goopy. I thought a full cup of chopped cilantro sounded excessive. Nope, it held its own but didn't overpower all the other flavors. I thought the salad might just be entirely too busy. Nope, it was cohesive, harmonious, and exciting.
What didn't: The estimated prep time and number of servings. It took way longer than 30 minutes, and made a huge amount. Doubled, it ostensibly would serve 4, but it nearly filled a 4-quart bowl. It was a huge hit at the party, and still there was enough for a few of us to take home large Dixie cups of it at the end of the day.
Suggested tweaks: The recipe doesn't specify how to prep the peaches for the grill, but the photo shows grilled halves. I think we can assume this is how they should be grilled, and if you're serving the salad as a plated meal, leaving a half peach per person intact makes for a pretty presentation.
From Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
- Yield:Serves 2
- Active time: 30 minutes, not including cooking the quinoa
- Total time:30 minutes, not including cooking the quinoa
- 1 recipe Chia Chipotle Dressing
- 2 cups cooked, chilled red or confetti quinoa
- 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup lightly packed, chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
- 1/2 cup lightly packed, chiffonaded fresh basil leaves
- 1 large red onion, sliced into rings
- 3 large, firm peaches or nectarines
- 3 ears of corn, husks and corn silk removed
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Prepare and chill the dressing until ready to use. Pour the quinoa, beans, and fresh herbs into a large mixing bowl. Keep this mixture chilled while you grill the remaining ingredients.
Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat, or heat an outdoor grill as per manufacturer’s directions. Rub the fruit and veggies with a thin coating of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Grill the onions until browned, about 3 minutes; set aside. Grill the peaches on each side for about 2 minutes, until the outside is hot and slightly charred; set aside. Grill the ears of corn until the kernels are lightly charred, turning the cobs occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cool the vegetables and fruit just enough to be handled safely, then dice into bite-size pieces. Use a knife with a thin blade to slice the corn kernels off the cobs.
Transfer the chopped fruit and veggies to the bowl with the quinoa, add the pumpkin seeds, and then pour on the dressing and toss thoroughly. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
(No time to fire up the grill? This salad is just as tasty made with raw peaches and onions. The corn can be lightly blanched, or look for frozen roasted corn kernels for a fast substitution.)