Last summer, I made a really tasty quinoa salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. I wanted that salad recently, but seein’ as how it’s not tomato and cucumber season, I opted for something a little heartier that used up some of my freezer and pantry items (frozen corn, canned black beans, Ro*Tel [diced tomatoes]…). I’m also currently struggling to reduce my wheat intake, so this hearty but gluten-free salad hits the spot and tastes great scooped up with a tortilla chip.
Speaking of tortilla chips, the nice folks over at Corazonas sent me samples of their chips to try out. They have three flavors: Lightly Salted (plain), Hint of Lime, and Black Bean and Cheese. The deal is, they’re made with plant sterols that help lower blood cholesterol levels (LDL) by reducing the absorption of cholesterol. Even better, the chips are light and crisp and taste great. I will say that I preferred the Hint of Lime over the others for just straight eating (no salsa). And in the plain version, it was easier to discern that something was different about the chip than in the other flavors. As in, after a handful of chips, I could sort of feel a bit of oil in my mouth. But it wasn’t an issue and, frankly, it helped me control my portion better than I would have otherwise. I can knock out a bag of tortilla chips pretty quickly.
But don’t be alarmed; plant sterols exist naturally in plant-based food (fruits, vegetables, grains), but the plant sterol levels has been boosted in these chips in order to have enough to block the cholesterol absorption. Additionally, they don’t work like or have the same effect on your body as the fake fats that many of us remember from the late 90s. Plant sterols—even when you eat nearly an entire bag of these chips in one sitting (trust me; I know)—do not cause, um, “intestinal distress.” Anyway, point being, these are great and tasty chips if you or a family member has issues with cholesterol. The Black Bean and Cheese flavor (pictured!) was very good with this quinoa salad.
Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
serves: 6 – 8
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup rinsed quinoa
1-2/3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen kernel corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (10 ounces) Ro*Tel diced tomatoes, drained
optional: a splash of lime juice
Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add quinoa and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add vegetable broth and turn the heat up to high to bring to a boil. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Transfer cooked quinoa to a medium/large bowl and set aside.
Spread corn out onto a baking sheet and cook at 400F for about 15-20 minutes (until roasted).
Combine the corn, beans, and Ro*Tel in the bowl of quinoa and stir to mix well. Add a splash or two of lime juice. Serve room temperature or chilled (and with chips!).