Quinoa may be my new favorite go-to side dish for a number of reasons:
1. It’s super easy to make — just like pasta, all you need to do is boil water!
2. It’s called a “superfood” for a reason. Quinoa is a seed that is actually a complete protein because it includes all 9 essential amino acids. As if that wasn’t good enough, it’s also cholesterol-free and gluten-free!
3. It takes on whatever flavors you put into it…that means endless possibilities for quinoa recipes!
4. It can be used a million different ways and is a perfect make-ahead meal. Cook up a big batch and have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love bulking up my salads with quinoa for lunch!
I was hosting dinner for some friends and knew this would be a tasty side dish — it’s so refreshing thanks to the fresh fruit and veggies and has a deliciously Mexican spin because of the cilantro and lime. If you’re looking for a quinoa-based main course, check out the original recipe here. Because I wanted to serve this as a side dish, I swapped out the chicken and added more veggies. The oranges and red pepper add the right amount of sweetness and the avocado is the perfect amount of creaminess. One key element to flavorful quinoa is the “dressing.” I loved the citrusy flavor of the dressing, which is just lime and orange juice mixed with olive oil, honey and cilantro. If you’re not a cilantro fan, just leave it out — you’ll still get the bold citrusy flavors from the dressing. The quinoa was light and refreshing, and because it keeps so well in the fridge, we had plenty of leftovers for the week (aka quinoa salad, see pic below!)
1 cup quinoa (I used tri-color, but any variation will do)
2 cups water
2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
1 avocado, peeled, pit removed, cut into cubes
1 red pepper, seeds removed, chopped
2 Tbsp orange juice (squeeze 2-3 orange segments)
Juice from 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. The directions usually go something like this: Boil water and quinoa in a medium pot then cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Let quinoa cool completely.
2. While quinoa is cooking, prep the dressing. Mix together orange juice, lime juice, honey and olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Mix in chopped cilantro.
3. Once quinoa has cooled, transfer to a serving dish and mix in orange segments, avocado, and red pepper. Add dressing and toss until well combined.
*Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The leftovers are even more fantastic because the flavors have had time to come together!
Recipe adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction
Photography: Lighten Up Recipes