Hi there! I’m Mara, the author of the blog Put on Your CakePants, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to do a guest post today on Free Your Fork! Lauren and I met in college, back when I thought that scrambling eggs for dinner merited taking a photo to document my culinary “skills,” when I once cooked everything in my electric rice cooker for two weeks because the gas company discontinued our service (funny thing—I guess my roommates and I all assumed someone else was taking care of the bill…for four months), and when I had never even heard of quinoa, much less figured out how to pronounce it. Now that we’re
older wiser, things have changed: I no longer take photos of eggs, I always pay my gas bill on time (failure to do so would likely result in a wretchedly frozen state of emergency, since I currently live in Michigan), and I now buy quinoa at Costco. And believe me, I am a quinoa champion these days, both in the pronouncing and eating department.
Although this chipotle-peach quinoa salad is a relatively new creation in my household, I can already tell that it will be making frequent appearances on my table this spring and summer. I made it for dinner twice this week, and I was silently cheering when I found out that the boyfriend had a lunch meeting the next day, since that meant I had dibs on the leftovers. Let’s start with the chipotle-peach vinaigrette! An exquisite combination of sweet and spicy, this fruity, smoky vinaigrette reminds me of a beach bonfire in the summer. The chipotles in adobo add a kick, but the dressing as a whole is probably somewhere between mild and medium. But if you love spicy foods, feel free to add extra chipotles! To go along with the fresh, sunny peach flavor of the vinaigrette, I mixed some sautéed corn and zucchini into the quinoa, and on top, some crumbled cotija cheese. The natural saltiness of the cotija perfectly complements the fruitiness of the salad—it may sound a bit strange at first, but it’s intoxicatingly delicious!
And if these photos haven’t already tempted your taste buds enough, I’ll make an appeal to your rationale side: this chipotle-peach quinoa salad comes together in half an hour or less, PLUS it’s super easy to customize if you’re making it for a crowd with dietary restrictions. It’s already naturally gluten-free, but leave off the cotija and it becomes dairy-free and vegan; alternatively, add some shredded chicken and it can function as a meal by itself. So I hope you’ll take a few minutes to whip up a batch for yourself—I daresay this salad is peachy keen…wah. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)
If you’re looking for more healthy eats in the form of fruity salads or quinoa salads, here are a few of my other favorites!
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From left to right:
Thanks so much for reading along, and thank you, Lauren, for having me!
- QUINOA SALAD
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 cup corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium peach, diced
- 2-3 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 1 medium peach, pitted and diced (no need to peel the peach)
- 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar (optional, see note)
- Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package.
- Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Test the oil with a piece of zucchini – once it sizzles upon contact, add the rest of the zucchini and sauté until softened (but not squishy), about 2 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a plate or bowl. Add the corn to the skillet and sauté until tender (about 8-10 minutes for fresh corn, 1-2 minutes for frozen or canned). If you are using frozen corn, heat it in the microwave and drain any excess liquid before adding it to the skillet.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, zucchini, corn, diced peach, and vinaigrette. Stir in half of the cotija, and sprinkle the remaining half on top, along with the chopped green onions.
If the peach you are using for the vinaigrette is sweet enough, you may choose to omit the honey/agave nectar.
If you like really spicy foods, feel free to add more than 2 chipotles to the vinaigrette.
Peach vinaigrette adapted from Detoxinista.