Last Sunday after I finished writing my last post, I figured I would be spending the rest of the day with my nose in a book. I was wrong. My nose was not in the goodness of a book, but in the dusty land of Mr. Rachmaninov’s ex-bedroom. Somehow I ended up spending the day cleaning and organizing both his room and my closet. It’s funny how things work out. Ah, well. It needed to happen, and it might as well have happened sooner than later.
In the process of cleaning my closet I was able to give away 10 bags of stuff and throw out 5 bags of trash (i. e. scraps of paper, tags, and flimsy boxes). It felt really, really good! I’m still having a hard time figuring out how it was even possible for my closet to have that much stuff in it; especially since there was virtually nothing on the floor to begin with.
Well, that’s enough talk about cleaning! Let’s talk about this salad. The star of this salad is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). Quinoa is an ancient grain that has its roots in the Andean region of Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, and Bolivia. It rich in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Because of its stellar nutritional profile, it has been credited with keeping the ancient Incan army strong and resilient. Needless to say, quinoa is quite a super-grain!
Along with the quinoa we have millet. Yes, many of you consider millet to be bird seed, but millet is also totally a people food! When millet is gently simmered, uncovered, until it absorbs all the water its cooked with, it becomes a fluffy, toothsome grain with an occasional crunch.
Interspersed throughout are soft, nutty black beans; juicy, gingery mango cubes; and bright, green scallions. Tossed in a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper; this salad is complete! It’s the perfect brown-bagger lunch alongside some fresh vegetable sticks.
Quinoa Black Bean Mango Salad
From Joy the Baker (http://joythebaker.com/2011/07/quinoa-black-bean-mango-salad/)
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed very well for 2-3 minutes*
1/2 cup uncooked millet
1 ripe mango
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
In a medium-sized pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil along with a pinch of salt. Add in your quinoa, bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow the quinoa to cook, undisturbed for about 25 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and the little curly cues appear.
In a small pot, bring another 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil along with a pinch of salt. Add in your millet. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook uncovered and undisturbed until the millet has absorbed all of the water, 15-20 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, before fluffing.
Slice your scallions and set aside. Slice your mango lengthwise into thirds, score the outer two halves (the ones without the pit) into squares, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
In a large bowl, gently combine your slightly cooled grains with the black beans, mango, scallions, lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled; the salad will stay fresh for 3 days in the fridge.
*If you cannot find quinoa, then you can substitute with long-grain brown rice. Bring 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil, and add in your rice. Cook, covered, for 40 minutes.
Serves 6 as a main course with a green salad