I recently hosted a spring baby shower for a close friend at my house. The soon-to-be grandma’s house was being remodeled and I had no luck finding a cozy restaurant venue that would even return my calls. With just a few weeks to plan, I was excited and had the perfect brunch menu in mind! This party would make any Better Homes & Gardens feature look like child’s play.

Then reality set in – my husband had to go out of town, I was on my own to get my home cleaned and decorated, and make the yard looking pretty (with a solid week of rain), I had to work the day before the shower, and of course I have my 20-month-old daughter whose average speed is 95 mph. Fate intervened — in the form of the Grandma who offered to have the event catered.

Everything was perfect…we had a juice and mimosa bar, pretty cupcakes, fresh flowers everywhere and a wonderful and savory brunch spread delivered right to my door! It was all delicious, from the frittatas to the deviled eggs. But the biggest surprise was the vegetarian dish, a chilled, smoky, tangy quinoa salad. Of course I said, “I can make that!”

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is one of the latest cooking trends. It’s a seed that looks like a grain, and it’s gluten-free and high in protein. Best of all, it cooks quickly and it’s available in most mainstream grocery stores near the rice and pasta. Since it easily takes on the flavor of whatever it’s seasoned with, it’s easy to adjust this recipe to your own tastes.

Smoky Lime Quinoa Salad


  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 c. water or broth
  • Juice from 3 limes (approx. 1/3 c.)
  • by: DAN PRED - This smoky lime quinoa salad is pictured with tortilla chips, but can also go well with grilled fish or chicken.

  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 15 oz. can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 12 oz. bag of broccoli slaw
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • Directions:

    Cook the quinoa and water or broth according to directions (depending on the brand, it may need to be rinsed prior). While it’s cooking, in a large jar or plastic container, mix the lime juice, oil, liquid smoke and mustard. Cover and shake the dressing until well blended.

    In a large bowl, toss the slaw, lime zest, cilantro, black beans, cooked quinoa and dressing until mixed. Chill for a couple of hours and serve as a side or main dish!

    Additional Suggestions:

    This makes great leftovers, but may need a bit more lime juice and liquid smoke added in if refrigerated more than a day.

    You can also use a mixture of shredded purple cabbage and carrots instead of the broccoli slaw.

    Try it alongside grilled fish or chicken this summer, or served with tortilla chips!

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