Incan Quinoa Salad with Roast Yams, Sweet Peppers, Black Beans, Lime and Chilies

Years ago, I’d been studying with indigenous healers from South America here in the states. A trip to their homeland had not quite manifested, but I had to get out adventuring somewhere. My solo camping trip to Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon inspired my spirit, and inspired this satisfying main dish salad. I made three hearty salads to take along, plus other fruits and nuts (and chocolate) to fill in the gaps. I remember coming back from a hot hike at Chaco, opening my cooler, and eating a big, chilled bowl of this salad.

So nourishing.

Incan Quinoa Salad with Roast Yams, Sweet Peppers, Black Beans, Lime and Jalapeno
Incan Quinoa Salad with Roast Yams, Sweet Peppers, Black Beans, Lime and Jalapeno

I’d been drenched in the New Mexican sun, clear eyed and amazed, looking at the incredible landscape of Chaco Canyon.::

Chaco Canyon Chaco Canyon Chaco Canyon

It’s a remarkable place to explore with body, mind and spirit. And a desert meal after hiking could … include this salad. My nights were filled with coyote calls, wind, and dreams of South America.

Incan Quinoa Salad

Archeological evidence has shown the agricultural greatness of the pre-Columbian native peoples–responsible for cultivating the potato, tomato, chili pepper and corn, as well as a grain called quinoa, found in ancient Incan artifacts which has an extremely high iron content and is 18% protein. In the South American, African and Middle Eastern countries where it  is eaten there exists no malnutrition. I’ve created a main dish salad to celebrate these highly nutritious foods out of fascination and respect for their marvelous nature based spirituality. Serve over mixed greens for an even more beautiful presentation and food value.

  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 c. water
  • approximately 1 1/2 c. sweet potato or butternut squash, pan roasted or grilled, small dice
  • 1 c. red and/or orange bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 c. packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 c. corn kernels, fresh roasted off the cob, or frozen work fine too
  • 1 c. drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 c. or a good big handful grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. mixed hot peppers, minced: such as jalapeno, habanero, hot banana
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. lime or lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • garnish with roast pumpkin seeds, if desired

Bring water and quinoa to boil in saucepan. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook until quinoa fluffs with fork, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.

Incan Quinoa Salad

Chaco Canyon

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