Quinoa is the perfect vehicle for summer vegetables: it's more substantial than couscous or rice and it kind of binds ingredients together. This simple version involves minimal cooking: just toss hot quinoa with black beans, chunks of ripe heirloom tomatoes, and crunchy scallions, and cover with a refreshing lemon dressing.
Cooking quinoa was once a bit of a mystery -- I had read a rather complicated recipe that called for steaming it in a towel towards the end of the cooking process. I find that it's fine to just pour off most of the cooking liquid and allow it to steam, covered, and it fluffs right up.
One of the most challenging parts of cooking quinoa, for me, is properly rinsing the quinoa. The holes in my sieve are just a little too big and I end up just barely holding on to the stuff. But the effort is well worth it; once cooked, the texture is unlike anything else.
This recipe lends it self to showcase practically any fresh vegetable, cut into small pieces and tossed into the mix. I've used fresh corn, bell peppers, and avocado as well as limes in place of lemons.
Black Bean and Heirloom Tomato Quinoa with Lemon Dressing
1 cup quinoa, rinsed several times and drained
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Fill a heavy bottomed pot 3/4 full with water, add a tablespoon of salt and heat until boiling. Add quinoa and cook until almost tender, 10-15 minutes.
Wisk lemon zest, juice, butter, olive oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Drain quinoa and return to pot. Reduce heat to low and cook quinoa, covered, until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Fluff quinoa with a fork and toss with dressing. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Serve hot or room temperature.
Related: How to Cook Quinoa
(Images: Stephanie Barlow)