Chopped Mexican Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Shrimp – Super delicious, super healthy and bursting with fresh, south-of-the-border flavor, this entree salad is sure to please! Skip the shrimp and you have a perfect side for parties, picnics and potlucks!
Do you ever feel like parts of your life are overdue for a bit of… ah, let’s call it… rejuvenation?
I’m certainly there, and lately it’s been in more areas than just one. This time, it started with…
a little trip Scott and I had planned. It was a special family get together in another part of the country. I have lots of brothers and sisters and sadly, we’re spread out all over the country and don’t get to see each other nearly often enough. So when there’s an “occasion”, whether it’s a wedding or a milestone birthday, we all try our best to make it work.
When I started packing for the trip, I realized that my summer wardrobe could definitely use a bit of that “rejuvenation”, but my week was busy and I didn’t really have time to shop. My sweet husband however, took care of that for me. He went out one day to run a few errands and came back with, not one, not two, but FIVE of the prettiest dresses you’ve ever seen. I loved them all and couldn’t believe he found them in one shopping “hunt” (as he calls it).
I ran upstairs to try them on and give him a little “fashion show”. That’s when the wake up call came; most of the pretty dresses didn’t look real pretty on me. I had put on a little winter weight and, let’s just say, it was showing in all the wrong places! I did settle on one of the dresses that seemed to camouflage my problem, but the situation made me determined to do a little… yup, you guessed it! Rejuvenation.
The trip was delightful, but since we’ve been home, we’ve established some new guidelines (Scott agreed, he was in the same boat with his clothes feeling a little snug too). Getting out early every morning on our bikes and going a bit further each day (up to 12 miles now!) is part of our plan. We’re also drinking more water and consciously eating lighter and leaner with lots of protein and fresh produce. Grilling is a delicious and easy way to prepare healthy meals in the summer, and we’ve taking full advantage of the season. We haven’t given up all sweet treats, as that usually makes us want them more, but we’re practicing portion control (small portions!).
One of my favorite ways to keep our diet healthy is to make a big pot of quinoa and use it for salads and sides all week long. This Chopped Mexican Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Shrimp is not only a fabulous way to let this healthy “super grain” shine, but it’s also a great way to incorporate lots of fresh veggies into a delicious, mostly make-ahead meal. Zucchini, bell pepper, white onion and scallions are finely diced (or sliced) and left raw for maximum nutrition and fiber. Fresh corn is cooked lightly to perfection utilizing an easy microwave technique. And a generous portion of fresh oregano is a delicious finishing touch, complementing all wonderful veggies.
And the shrimp? The crowning glory, marinated briefly with a few south-of-the-border ingredients; fresh lime juice, honey, oil, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and coriander. Just a couple minutes on the grill and they’re ready to top your lovely salad.
A fresh, spicy dressing ties it all together with flavors mirroring the marinade. The salad, dressing and marinade can all be made a day ahead, making this a perfect dish for a summer party. Just prepare the shrimp shortly before serving time and you’re good to go! And if you’re looking for a perfect side for a picnic or potluck, skip the shrimp and serve the salad in a big pretty bowl. I guarantee, it will come back empty!
You know those four dresses that didn’t fit so well? Two went back, but the other two are hanging in my closet just. Scott calls them my “inspiration” dresses. I plan to have them fit quite nicely as a result of my “rejuvenation” regime!
Do you need a bit of rejuvenation diet-wise? This yummy salad is the perfect place to start. And if you’re one of those lucky souls who doesn’t, I think you’ll fall in love with the bright, fresh, delicious flavors that shine in this salad. The fact that it’s light, lean and super healthy will just be a bonus for you, you skinny thing!
P.S. There are LOTS of diced veggies in this salad. Notice how they’re all quite perfect and uniform in size? You might be thinking that I’m very skilled and precise with my knives. Truth be told, I’m actually a bit lazy in the kitchen, so I have a secret weapon to make quick work of dicing zucchini, peppers, onions, carrots, eggplant, cabbage, celery, apples, pears – just about any vegetable and lots of fruits. It’s this little chopper, and I use it all the time for soups, salads and even desserts. It comes with two different sized dicing inserts for perfect and quick dicing and chopping. I also love that the catch container doubles as a measuring cup, so you can see exactly how much you’ve diced or chopped. I just throw it in the dishwasher when I’m done and it’s ready for my next cooking adventure!
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- 3 cups cooked quinoa, I use this method for preparing perfect quinoa (3 cups is half of the recipe.)
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- For the corn:
- 3 medium ears fresh corn, unhusked
- For the shrimp:
- 2 tablespoons sunflower, canola or other mild-flavored oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 ½ pounds raw, peeled and deveined shimp
- For the salad:
- 2 medium zucchini, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
- 1 medium white onion, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh oregano
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
- For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium-size glass jar. Cover tightly and shake until well combined. (If dressing is made ahead and refrigerated, oil may solidify slightly. If this happens just let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and it will liquify. You can also warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds to liquify.)
- Prepare corn by placing the three ears in the microwave, unhusked. Cook on high power for 12 minutes. Remove from microwave with a clean kitchen towel or oven mitt to a cutting board. Holding the corn with the towel or oven mitt, cut off 2 inches at the bottom of each ear. Hold corn at the silk end and push the corn out of the husk. The corn comes out perfectly cooked and free of silk! Here's a video demonstration of the technique.
- Cut corn from ears. Set aside. (I like to leave some of the corn in bigger pieces.)
- About 30 minutes before grilling, combine all marinade ingredients in a zippered bag. Gently squeeze bag and tilt back and forth to combine ingredients. Add shrimp and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and drain well, discarding marinade.
- Prepare a medium-high (about 450˚F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
- Clean and oil grill surfaces. Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp on the first side for about 3 minutes, or until they begin to curl up, turn pink and look charred here and there on the surface facing the grill. Flip shrimp to other side and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until done. Don't overcook or shrimp will be tough and dry.
- For the salad, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Drizzle lightly with dressing and stir again. Top with shrimp. Pass extra dressing at the table.