Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad


Breaking Bland Eats

Having just returned from our honeymoon I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the bright tropical flavours we enjoyed while we were away. Luckily, I found a sale on perfectly ripe mangos the other day, and I knew I wanted to use them in a veggie-packed quinoa salad.

This salad is like summer on a plate. Filled with vibrant colours, sweet mango, coconut scented quinoa, and a refreshing lime dressing. Feel free to sub in your favourite vegetables or whatever you have on hand. I love using edamame beans (soybeans) in salads, as they provide a complete source of protein, which is great if you don’t eat meat or are just trying to use more vegetable protein sources.

One tip to turn bland quinoa into something delicious is to cook it in something other than just water. I usually like to sauté some onions and garlic first, then cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock. However, for this recipe, I decided to do a play on coconut rice and used coconut milk instead of stock.  The coconut milk provides just a hint of coconut flavour and helps to keep the quinoa from drying out. Fresh lime juice and cilantro make a simple dressing for this salad, and helps to balance the sweetness of the coconut milk.

This recipe does requires a little bit of planning ahead, since you want the quinoa to be cooled completely before you assemble the salad. A speedy way to do this is to spread the quinoa out on a plate or shallow dish when its hot. This increasing the surface area and allows the quinoa to cool much faster. At this point, you can place the quinoa in the fridge and start prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Speaking of prepping mangos, I recently saw this amazing life hack on how to peel a mango, you can see the video here.  Life changing isn’t it?

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Recipe by Kirsten.  Serves 4 (main dish) or 6-8 (side dish).

For the quinoa:

  • ½ cup dried quinoa
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk*

For the salad:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup shelled edamame beans, cooked and cooled
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium carrot, grated or julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of two large limes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mixed salad greens (to serve).
  1.  In a medium pot bring coconut milk to a boil, add the quinoa, cover with a lid, and reduce to low heat.
  2. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and let the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes. Allow the quinoa to cool completely– see tip above if you are pressed for time.
  3. To assemble the salad, in a large bowl mix the cooled quinoa with the rest of the ingredients except the salad greens.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and more lime juice if needed.
  5. Serve the salad over a bed of mixed salad greens either as a main course or as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken.

* You can freeze the leftover coconut milk and use it at a later time in your favourite curries, stir-fries, or blended into fruit smoothies.

 

Thai Chicken Corn Chowder

Thai Chicken Corn Chowder | Breaking Bland EatsCold and flu season has hit our family pretty hard over the past few weeks, and they say nothing cures a cold like chicken soup, right? Well, this is my (somewhat loose) interpretation of a classic chicken soup mixed with one of my favourite dishes – red curry.  This sweet and spicy soup gives you a good dose of vegetables and is sure to help clear those sinuses! Red curry paste, frozen corn, and a tin of coconut milk make this a quick, one pot dinner. You know me, I’m always looking for ways to add more vegetables, so I used sweet potato and spinach in this soup, but you can play around with different vegetable combinations or even make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken.

Kaffir lime leaves are a common ingredient in Thai cooking as well as many other Southeast Asian cuisines.  You can find them fresh or frozen in most Asian food stores and I’ve even spotted them at my local chain grocery store. They add a wonderful lime fragrance and they also freeze well, so it’s worth getting your hands on some if you love Thai cooking.  If you can’t find them, you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lime zest, but the flavour won’t be quite the same.

Hope you are managing to stay healthy!

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Thai Chicken Corn Chowder

Recipe by Kirsten, serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into 4 round pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes.
1-2 tablespoons of red curry paste, to taste
1 tin of coconut milk
4 cups of water
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or soya sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 kaffir lime leaves

2 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups of frozen corn kernels
4 cups of packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
juice of one lime 

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
2. Add ginger, sweet potato, and red curry.  Start with 1 tablespoon,  you can add more later if you want it spicier. Stir until vegetables are evenly coated with the curry paste.
3. Next add the coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar, salt and kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
4.  Add chicken and frozen corn, cook for another 10 minutes.  Once chicken is cooked and the sweet potatoes are tender, remove the 4 pieces of ginger and kaffir lime leaves.
5. Stir in spinach, lime juice, and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning prior to serving.