Salad or Cowboy Caviar Salsa Dip? You Decide … (Hint: It’s Both!)
~ This unique quinoa salad recipe doubles as a delicious salsa that’s a fun spin on the ever-popular Cowboy Caviar! Lemon-dijon soy sauce dressing highlights the red pepper, corn, edamame, black beans, cilantro and quinoa. So delicious, so healthy – whether you serve it as a vegetarian main-dish salad, a picnic-perfect potluck side, or a show-stopping appetizer dip! Wins raves every time we serve it! ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free •
This is beyond good, every time I make it. Like, everybody-asks-for-the-recipe good. There are crunchy red peppers, sweet corn, edamame and black beans, all combined with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette. Add in the quinoa and … oh, yummmmm! Originally shared with me by Miss Karen (my kiddos’ beloved preschool teacher), I’ve revamped this over the years – without changing the great taste!
But there is a dilemma: Is this a “Cowboy Caviar”-style dip or a wow-your-guests salad? Honestly, I’m not totally sure. So I’ve just given in and served it as both (and sometimes even at the same party)!
And actually, that’s the really awesome thing about this recipe. You can set it out early at your party as an appetizer, then switch it over to the buffet line as a salad at mealtime. Two for the price of one – you gotta love that!
It’s delicious paired with pretty much anything. (I take that back. It may not be good with Frosted Flakes.) But, yes, it absolutely makes a fantastic dip for tortilla chips or pitas. And, it’s perfect next to a juicy burger at a summer barbecue. It even feels hearty enough to be a refreshing winter side dish.
Oh – and if by chance there happen to be any leftovers (which is rare!), I’m so happy to have this for lunch the next day!
Over the years, the recipe has evolved. I’ve cut back on the oil, and added nutritional and textural boosts from the edamame and quinoa. But it still has the uniquely delicious flavors that I loved right from the start.
I would just like Miss Karen to know that I still think of her often as I make this amazing, goes-with-(almost!)-anything salad! Along with all the handprint turkeys and popsicle stick art projects (ummmmm … yeah … I still have bins full of those), this recipe is one of my favorite preschool keepsakes.
With Memorial Day right around the corner, and a long summer of backyard barbecues ahead, I just couldn’t wait to share this easy, super-adaptable recipe!
First, just dump a can of black beans into a colander along with some frozen edamame and corn. Give it all a good rinse to remove the liquid from the beans and to help the edamame and corn begin thawing. (Really – no cooking the edamame and corn, and no need to thaw it all ahead of time. See, I told you this was going to be easy!) Once it’s all drained, transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
Then, add the chopped red pepper, cilantro, green onions and garlic. Toss in your cooked quinoa. (No panicking here – it takes only about 15 minutes to cook the quinoa. If you’re a little uncertain about how to do it, just hop over to our post How to Cook Quinoa (and Why You Should!) to learn more about this super-nutritious “whole grain” and how to prepare it.)
Ingredient Tip: As I promised, this recipe is incredibly adaptable. Can’t find shelled edamame? No worries – just sub a second can of black beans! Don’t have the extra 15 minutes to prepare quinoa? Totally ok to leave it out! Wanna really jump outside the box? Throw in a handful of chopped pecans! I’m not kidding – it’s awesome! C’mon – be creative!
You’re already almost done! Next, just whisk together your dressing – lemon juice, soy sauce, dijon, and olive oil – and pour it over your bowl full of gorgeous, colorful veggies. (Hey! If you’ve recently made our killer Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins, you probably have a lemon on hand just waiting to be juiced for this recipe – perfect!)
Give it all a quick stir, and you’re done! It’s really best to pop it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving, just to let the flavors combine. But, honestly, who plans that far ahead? Besides, if you take a nibble or two to test it out, you may end up eating half the bowl right away … why wait a few hours?!?!
So … Salsa or salad? Or both?
Who cares?!? Just eat!
Oh! And when you’re done debating what to call this, you’ll probably want to get busy making some more quinoa recipes. Here are more of our faves …
More Great Quinoa Recipes
- Mediterranean Confetti Quinoa Salad
- Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
- Citrus Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
- Chicken Fajita Quinoa Bake (No Pre-Cooking!)
- Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Freekeh (or Quinoa)
And, if you’re pretty new to cooking with quinoa, you should definitely check out our post on how to cook quinoa (and why you should!). It’s got helpful hints to make sure you get that quinoa right, every time!
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup quinoa
- 3 cups frozen corn
- 1 16-ounce can black beans
- 1 1/2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
- 1 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 6 green onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (clarification update on 5/7/15: we use Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons smooth dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place water and quinoa in a small saucepan and prepare according to package directions (which will probably indicate that you will bring them to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed). NOTE: If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, then before you add it to the saucepan, you will need to rinse it in a sieve, swishing it with your fingers until the water runs clear.
- Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse and drain the corn, black beans and edamame, just to wash away the liquid from the beans and help the edamame and corn to begin thawing. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add red pepper, cilantro, green onions, garlic and prepared quinoa.
- To prepare the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and olive oil in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine and then pour over vegetable mixture.
- Chill for an hour or two before serving to allow the flavors to combine.