Corn and Quinoa Salad with Lemony Mint Dressing

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This incredibly fresh and scrumptious salad recipe comes out of the cookbook, DISHING UP MARYLAND by Lucie Snodgrass.  Each bite starts with a zippy lemon twang, which is mellowed by the hint of honey, then finishes with a mild, refreshing mint flavor.  The corn, onions and quinoa have a satisfying mouthfeel that keeps you scooping for the next hearty bite.  This is an excellent Summer salad I could eat over and over again.

I used this recipe as a way to introduce myself to the quinoa (KEEN-wa).  Quinoa has a nutty, mildly sweet flavor, and is a light and fluffy alternative to long grain rice. 

Quinoa is a grain-like crop grow. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. Quinoa is closely related to plant species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.
~borrowed that tidbit from wikipedia.

To be honest, I have read very little on quinoa itself or folks cooking with it.   That doesn't really mean anything; I'm not what some call an "early adopter" when it comes to cooking with food items not normally found in the common grocery store.  My kids and won't-admit-he's-picky-eater husband keep me grounded.  So, when my dear friend, Kim the Dietitian, brought over several samples of grains from work, I JUMPED at the opportunity to explore.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered this recipe in DISHING UP MARYLAND with a bag quinoa waiting for me.  AND, AND,,, it just so happened that I had a few mint plants purchased from my local farmers' market waiting in containers to be served.  There was nothing stopping me from trying something new.

HERE'S ALL IT TAKES

4-6 servings

  • 4 ears corn in their husks
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 green onions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced then chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into thin ribbons then chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons salad oil (canola, olive, flaxseed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pull the husks of the corn back, but not off.  Remove the silk from each ear of corn and then pull the husks back up.  Roast the ears over a hot grill for 5 minutes, turning the ears several times so that they roast evenly.  Let the corn cool slightly.  Shuck the ears and cut the corn from the cobs with a sharp knife.  Put the corn into a  LARGE bowl.

Combine the quinoa with the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat, fluff, and set aside for 5 minutes.

Add the scallions and the mint to the roasted corn.  Add the quinoa, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, oil, and pepper, and toss well.  Cover and allow the salad to marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.

COOK'S NOTES

  • If you don't want to roast the corn on the grill, just stream it and cut it from the cob.
  • If you have frozen kernel corn on hand, thaw it out and give it a quick sauté in smig of olive oil until it's lightly golden.  2 1/2 to 3 cups corn off the cob should be enough for this salad recipe.

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