Taking it's own sweet time

I swear any day now the temperatures will soar to the mid 70's, the sun will consistently appear, the cloud cover will lift, and we will be able to reliably say that summer is here.  It is after all almost July 4.

Since my favorite jacket is buried in a box that is part of our shipment from Singapore it can't happen soon enough. I think by the time I find it, I won't need it anymore. But I can't complain really, after 8 years of living on the equator in perpetual sultry weather the cool of the Pacific Northwest has been a welcome relief.

Still, 70 degrees Fahrenheit isn't asking for too much. Maybe 75.

According to the weather app on my iphone today was to be sunny and warm(ish) and we were invited by some optimistic friends to their home for a BBQ. I was asked to bring a summer salad. I knew that another friend was bringing a green salad so I was looking for something else, something a little interesting and unexpected.

I ran through my usual recipes for pasta salads and slaws, and briefly entertained a potato salad but tossed it as Andy isn't a fan.  Then in a brief moment of inspiration I remembered this one.  It's a riff on a Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa from Bon Appetit a few years ago.  This is a salad with black beans, tomato, avocado, and corn.  It is brightened with a lime dressing and a bit of cilantro.  If you aren't a fan of cilantro (I can take it or leave it) forget about it, the salad if fine without it.  If you haven't tried quinoa before don't be intimidated. It is pretty straight forward to prepare and takes to a lot of different flavors.

I'm also happy to report that the sun has firmly planted itself in the sky and the back deck looks like an inviting place to while away the afternoon.  Stop on by, I'll save you a seat.

Black Bean, Tomato and Quinoa Salad
2 cups Quinoa
1 can of black beans rinsed and drained
3 green onions sliced on the bias
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 avocados diced
1 cup of corn kernels, preferably fresh
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced lime zest
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¾ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon agave nectar

For the quinoa:
In a large saucepan combine the quinoa with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Watch the quinoa closely so that it does not burn. When most of the water has been absorbed remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to finish steaming. Allow the quinoa to cool in the saucepan to room temperature and once cool transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

For the dressing:
Combine the lime zest and juice, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

For the salad:
To the quinoa add the black beans, green onions, tomato, avocado, corn, cilantro and parsley.  Pour over approximately half of the lime dressing and toss to coat gently.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prior to serving taste the salad and add more dressing if needed, it usually needs about ¼ cup more of the dressing. You won't use all the dressing.  The left over dressing is fabulous on a simple salad of baby greens and Dungeness crab.

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