Mexican Quinoa Salad

Hi Hi, loves! Happy Monday evening! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend & awesome start to your week! I had a super fun Bachlorette / Girls Weekend for one of my dear friends, Jenny, who is getting married at the end of the month. The theme of the weekend was a Mexican Fiesta and it was such a blast! As a part of the festive food & fun, I contributed this gorgeous & so delicious Mexican Quinoa Salad! I was so pleased with how it turned out and it was such a hit at the party! I'll definitely be making this one again & am super excited to share it with you all!

INGREDIENTS
organic quinoa. 1.5 cups
water. 3 cups
organic, (no salt added) black beans. 1, 15 oz. can (I used Organic Eden because the can is BPA FREE) 
organic cherry tomatoes. 1 cup
1 organic, orange bell pepper
organic sweet corn. 1, 10 oz. bag (I used Woodstock brand)
2 ripe (but not too ripe) avocados
raw pepitas. 1 cup (I toasted these, SO yum!!)
organic cilantro. 1/2 cup, roughly chopped

DRESSING
olive oil. 3 tablespoons
organic, grade A maple syrup. 1 tablespoon
juice of 2 limes
pink salt & pepper to taste

METHOD
In a medium/large-ish pot, add 1.5 cups dry quinoa + 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer, keeping a good eye & stirring often until all the water has absorbed. 
While your quinoa is cooking, begin your salad prep...
FIRST, I pulled my bag of frozen corn from the freezer to thaw in time to add along with all my other ingredients. 
Empty your can of black beans into a strainer & rinse well then set to the side.
Halve your cherry tomatoes & cut bell pepper into cubes
roughly chop cilantro

YOUR QUINOA SHOULD BE ABOUT READY! When it is, empty from your pot into a large bowl (large enough to mix all ingredients) and let cool. Take a fork & give it a good mixing every few minutes to help the heat escape & fluff up the quinoa. 

NOW ITS TIME TO TOAST YOUR PEPITAS! In a large cast iron skillet, heat your pan over med-low and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pour your cup of pepitas into the pan and scatter evenly. Give several cranks of sea salt and start stirring constantly. Do this for about 5-6 minutes. You'll notice your peptias starting to change color & look toasted! Pay attention to your heat, and lower if the pan starts to smoke. *Definitely set a timer so you don't burn your seeds! ;) 

AVOCADOS!! (Yaaaas) I saved these for last since they tend to brown after sitting out. I used 2 perfectly ripened beauties! Cut in half, remove the pit, peel & cut into cubes. 

ONCE YOUR QUINOA IS COOLED, ITS TIME TO MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER! 
I added everything in a few steps...
beans, corn & tomatoes first and gave it all a good mix.
bell pepper & pepitas and mixed some more.
next I added the dressing and you guessed it, more mixing! 
cilantro next, give a little toss and finally, the avocado. 
I saved the avocado for last since its so soft & didn't want to smush it while mixing everything else.  

You guys, this salad was so yums!! It takes a little bit of prep work, but its totally worth it. I made this to serve about 12 of us girls. Feel free to cut back on any ingredients, but having leftovers is definitely a good thing! Quinoa salad keeps in the fridge for a few days and makes for a perfect anytime meal/snack! 

Much Love, 

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