Cinco de Mayo is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Half my family is Mexican, so I have memories of tacos and Coronas by the pool while basking in the first hints of summer sun. Good times!
Unfortunately this year I was too busy to even go out with friends for some real Mexican food (or at least San Francisco’s version of it). Instead I made a quick, healthy quinoa salad using Mexican herbs and spices to help me feel like I didn’t completely neglect my heritage.
You can find all these ingredients at your regular grocery store. I used arugula, but you can substitute spinach if you prefer. I also recommend being creative with your spices (jalepeño or cumin come to mind). If you have fresh salsa or pico de gallo around you can stir in a spoonful or two at the end to accentuate the Mexican flavor.
I recommend making extra so you have leftovers for lunch the next day!
Mexican-style Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- Half bag of arugula or baby spinach
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 1 spring onion or shallot
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
- Cayenne pepper
- Tapatio or favorite Mexican hot sauce
Rinse and cook quinoa. Crush and mince your garlic. While your quinoa is boiling, halve your tomatoes and dice your onion and pepper. If using a spring onion, save some of the green onion slices for garnish. Remove the stems from your cilantro. Dice your avocado and sprinkle it with salt.
When your quinoa is finished cooking, heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and red peppers and cook on medium high heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off heat and add quinoa, stirring to mix. Fold in arugula or spinach and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Transfer quinoa mixture to a large serving bowl and add avocado, tomatoes and cilantro. Squeeze in juice of half a lime and add a few dashes of Tapatio or Tabasco to taste. Gently stir, being careful not to mash the avocado chunks.
Adjust salt and spices. Garnish with green onion slices, extra cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.
Do you try to recreate nostalgic moments with certain spices and flavors?