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Quinoa, Black Beans, and Tomatoes in a Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette

Quinoa, Black Beans, and Tomatoes in a Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette RecipeI created this side dish for a different, healthy, light choice to replace our usual suspects.  If you haven’t jumped on the quinoa [1](pronounced keen-wa) bandwagon yet, you should.  Are you a vegetarian?  Do you tend towards high blood sugar?  Are you looking to add iron, folic acid, or fiber to your diet?  Are you exploring gluten-free options?  Are you looking to reduce costs while saving time and adding flavor to your diet?  If you answered yes to any of these, quinoa should be your friend.  It cooks in 15 minutes – way less time than rice, is significantly healthier than pasta – while being packed with flavor and interesting texture and it’s a great conversation starter!

I came up with this recipe largely because I way over purchased fresh ginger in my efforts towards my making my own ginger ale, a work still in progress.  I don’t often cook with fresh ginger which is really a shame.   I minced mine by hand with a very sharp knife, but if you own a fine microplane grater [2], you should absolutely use that.  I just haven’t purchased one of those yet.  If you’re short on time, I’d recommend just cooking 1 c. of quinoa in 2.5 cups of water for 15 minutes instead of the two part method below.  I usually cook it that way and can’t imagine that it would make too much of a difference.  Quinoa can be bitter if not rinsed well – so I’ve heard, so far I’ve never run into this myself – so take caution to rinse extra well in a strainer before you get started.  I like my quinoa al dente – kind of crunchy tasting – almost like the texture of the teeny tiny brightly colored roe used in sushi, I forgot what they are called, I don’t eat sushi nearly as much as I used to.  If you’ve tried it and prefer a softer texture, just up your cooking time by about 3-5 minutes.

Quinoa, Black Beans, and Tomatoes in a Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tbsps fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tbsp yellow onion, minced (green onions would have been great!  I was out)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp kosher salt

10 turns fresh ground pepper

1 c. organinc quinoa, rinsed very well in a strainer

1 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. canned diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained

In a bowl, combine juices, oil, ginger, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil.  Add 1/2 tsp kosher salt and quinoa.  Let cook uncovered for 8 minutes, then drain into strainer.  Place strainer over a 1 inch of simmering water, then cover quinoa with a clean dish towel (fold to make small enough that the sides won’t catch on fire!), followed by the saucepan’s lid.  Steam quinoa for 7 minutes, then set strainer aside.  After cooling a few minutes, add quinoa to vinaigrette stir, then add black beans, and tomatoes.  Stir then season to taste with salt and pepper.