Quinoa Steak Salad with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

Quinoa Steak SaladQuinoa (keen´-wa), an ancient grain native to the Andes Mountains of South America, makes a terrific base for this Latin-leaning main-dish salad. Quinoa has almost twice as much protein as other whole grains. For this recipe, cook the quinoa in the morning—or a day ahead—so it’s plenty chilled. Note that 1 cup uncooked quinoa yields about 4 cups cooked. Cook more if you want, but splash on an extra tablespoon or two of rice vinegar when combining the quinoa part of the salad.

To simplify a bit, the dressing for this salad is used two ways:  Some is mixed with the quinoa, the rest with the tomato-avocado salsa.  And to keep the calories lower, 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (all by itself) is also used on the quinoa for an added flavor boost.

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Quinoa & Steak Salad with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

Make 4 servings

1        cup uncooked quinoa
1/3     cup + 2 tablespoons Nakano seasoned rice vinegar
2        Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2     tsp. salt
1/4     tsp. (or more) hot pepper sauce or 1 small jalapeno, seeded, deveined and minced
2        medium tomatoes, diced
1        avocado, peeled and diced
2-3    Tbsp. diced red onion
4        Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
4        steaks, 4-6 oz. each
Ground cumin to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves

Prepare quinoa as package directs.  Allow to cool 15 minutes then spread out on a shallow dish or tray. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

For dressing, stir together 1/3 cup Nakano seasoned rice vinegar, oil, salt and hot pepper sauce. Transfer chilled quinoa to a medium bowl. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of the dressing and the 2 Tbsp. additional rice vinegar. Sprinkle on 2 Tbsp. of the cilantro; stir.

For salsa, combine the remaining dressing with tomatoes, avocado, red onion and the remaining 2 Tbsp. cilantro; stir.

Rub about 1/2 teaspoon cumin on each side of each steak. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper to taste. Grill as desired, or coat a heavy frying pan with a little oil.  Cook until done as desired.

Place lettuce leaves on four plates. Divide quinoa among each plate. Place cooked steaks on top and spoon salsa over.

Nutrition information per serving (6 oz steaks): 540 calories, 38g protein, 44g carb, 24g fat, (5g sat. fat), 90mg chol, 810mg sodium, 7g fiber

                                    An original Recipe by Rita Held       Photography by Suzanne Carreiro
Quinoa Steak Salad 2

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