the taste space

Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Corn Salad

Posted in Salads by Janet M on September 12, 2011

My family only recently discovered quinoa.

I’d like to think I am to blame, but I know it is only partially due to my fondness for whole grains.

According to my sister-in-law, quinoa is the new couscous. She went to a multitude of barbecues this summer and quinoa salads were always a star.

What’s not to like about the fluffy pebbles? I often use quinoa as a simple side to a stir fry or curry. Anywhere you’d typically think of rice, quinoa can substitute as a quick-cooking grain. Other times, I will use it as a base for a salad, as I find it works well with Mexican flavours.

While my family has been smitten with quinoa, they have had a hard time figuring out how to cook it properly. I typically cook it in twice the amount of salted water for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed, and then plop the lid back on for an additional 5 minutes to let it steam.

For some reason, this doesn’t work for my mom. I will conceded that yes, her quinoa was more on the mushy/goopy side. I encouraged her to try to toast it first, to use less water or to steam it instead. For her last quinoa salad, with oranges, black-eyed peas and mint, she tried the steaming method with a fine mesh strainer inside a pot of boiling water. Now she had perfectly plump quinoa! It really is a simple way to get better texture from the quinoa and I should really try it more often. The benefit of boiling it is that I can infuse the quinoa with flavour if I use vegetable stock, herbs or other spices.

Need a delicious salad to inspire you to try quinoa? Try this Mexican-inspired lime-cilantro quinoa corn salad that I adapted from Ashley at Eat, Me, Delicious, who modified it from Rebar. It is a light, bright salad brimming with flavour.

While I don’t usually add corn to salads, the sweet corn was the perfect accent to this salad. It melds well with the the quinoa, that is speckled with a red pepper that I had grilled on the barbecue with some oil and garlic. Green onions add a nice sharpness and the chili flakes give this a bit of a zip. Cilantro is the herb of choice that pairs well with the fresh lime juice. I love the acid, but if you don’t, feel free to tame it by adding some oil. I also found that I really liked adding whole golden flax seeds to the salad. They were camouflaged amongst the quinoa, so you can’t really taste them, but they add extra nutrition – healthy omega fats and fiber. Completely optional, but if you are the adventurist, healthy type, go for it!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends and to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring Scintillating Salads.


Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Corn Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups salted water

2 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
1 red pepper, finely diced (I used a red pepper that I had grilled on the barbecue, marinaded in oil and garlic)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I used Vietnamese coriander)
1/2 cup green onion, minced (from 4 green onions)
1/4 cup golden flax seeds, optional but good!

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (4 limes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, or to taste

1. Bring water to boil in a small pot, add the quinoa and salt and bring to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for an additional 5 minutes. Strain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.

2. Steam or lightly saute corn until just tender and cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice, salt and chili flakes.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

Serves 4.

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12 Responses

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  1. sprint2thetable said, on September 12, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Great looking salad! I love quinoa – especially all the protein you can get from it.

    Have you tried bulgur? Similar nutritional profile, but a bit nuttier. Love it too!

    • Saveur said, on September 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM

      I adore bulgur, Laura! What is your favourite bulgur salad?

  2. Ranjani @ Four Seasons of Food said, on September 12, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Looks yummy! I too have a fondness for whole grains.

    One note though: I’ve read that you don’t actually get much nutritional benefit from whole flax seeds, because they usually just pass right through…ground is better if you want to get those omega3s

    • Saveur said, on September 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM

      Thanks for the tip! I will have to break out my spice grinder I guess.

  3. Joanne said, on September 12, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I’ve actually also found that quinoa is the new IT thing right now…EVERYONE seems to be talking about it! Even my parents…which is eerie. I love the sound of this salad! So much fresh flavor…and my current addiction – CORN.

  4. Priya said, on September 12, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Wonderful salad, looks filling and colourful..

  5. Alyson said, on September 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    That’s too funny – I feel like I could have written the exact same thing about my family and quinoa. They only just started eating it (and enjoying it) when I made a dish for them back on the Labour Day weekend. We probably eat it once a week – LOVE the stuff.

  6. [...] the simple grilled ears, to pan-toasting the kernels for a salad, or boiling the corn to put in a quinoa salad, or as a savoury filling for a cornmeal [...]

  7. DebinHawaii said, on September 18, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    I am a quinoa fan and I love all of the flavors in this one–fresh and delicious. Thanks for sharing it and your stew with Souper Sundays this week. ;-)

  8. Ashley said, on September 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Love your idea of adding flax seeds! I didn’t know you could steam quinoa, but good to know your mom found a way that works for her. :)

  9. [...] Soup – Smoky Split Pea Soup with Roasted Garlic and Sage – Christmas Eve Borscht (or Barszcz) – Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Corn Salad – Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant – Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with [...]

  10. [...] the recipe has been requested numerous times but it was put on the backburner for a while. Quinoa is the new potluck food, shunning couscous. A bit of googling taught me the recipe was originally from Canadian Living back [...]


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