Mexican summer platter

With the heat this summer, Geneva feels like Mexico!  So I decided to seek inspiration from the land of the Aztecs, the Maya and many others.

This platter with quinoa, black rice, black beans and grilled vegetables is more than just a salad; it’s a complete meal rich in fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins. I made this for lunch today and we will have it again for supper. It’s incredibly flavourful, colourful and perfect to have on a hot summer’s day.

In this recipe, to give the salad an amazing flavour, I grilled the red peppers, onions and corn kernels over the stovetop and directly in my small grill pan (see picture below). This is a simple but worthwhile procedure (explained in detail below) that can be done in your kitchen, if, like me, you cannot tolerate standing over a BBQ in scorching heat.

Enjoy!

Mexican summer platter

Serves 6 to 8.

Can be served as a starter or main dish.

Salad

  • Some grape seed -or- vegetable oil for grilling veggies
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (soaked & boiled until tender -or- the canned/jarred kind)
  • 1 cup cooked black Italian rice, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels (I use the pre-cooked kind in a glass jar ; it’s easier and they taste better than canned. You can also use a knife to slice off the kernels from cooked corncobs)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, sliced in big strips
  • 1 big red onion, sliced in thick rounds
  • A big bunch of fresh coriander leaves (can substitute with parsley), chopped fine
  • Sea salt & ground pepper, to taste
  • A little powdered paprika (hot or mild)
  • Some extras to make a platter (option): avocado, tomato and lime slices. Mixed lettuce leaves.
Black Italian rice.

Vinaigrette

This recipe makes more than what you will need (read procedure below). In the bowl of a food processor, add the following ingredients and process until smooth:

  • 1/3 cup freshy squeezed lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons (tbsp) avocado flesh
  • 6 tbsps grape seed or vegetable oil
  • A small piece of red jalapeño or chipotle pepper -or- a pinch or two of dried hot pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic buds
  • ½ teaspoon of each: powdered ginger and cumin

Procedure

If using canned/jarred black beans, drain and rinse them out well with a strainer under cold running water. Set beans aside in the strainer to air dry.

Drain jarred corn kernels with a strainer and rinse them under cold running water.

In a grill pan (see picture below) over stovetop, add just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Heat up the oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Your grill should be quite hot.

For grilling: grill your red peppers, turning them with tongs, for about 5 minutes or until black marks appear on both sides. The peppers should keep their shape and not be too soft. When done, transfer them onto a plate. Repeat the same grilling procedure for the onions and again for the corn kernels. The onions and corn take less time to grill than the peppers and need more frequent turning (which is why I grill the different veggies separately). Again, these should not be too soft, but just grilled and charred on the outside to unlock their flavour.

In a big bowl, add and gently toss the cooked quinoa, black beans and cooked rice. If need be, half the red peppers and onions into smaller strips. Add all your grilled veggies to the quinoa mixture and toss gently. The quinoa, beans and rice will absorb the oil and flavours from the grilled veggies. Add lots and lots of chopped coriander leaves (or parsley) and toss again.

Now here, start by adding 2 tablespoons ONLY of the vinaigrette. Toss gently again. Do a test taste with a clean spoon. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Test taste again with another clean spoon. Add more spices or vinaigrette, if need be.

Cover and put in fridge to marinate.

Before serving, do another test taste with clean spoon. I tend to add a few more squeezes of lime juice because I love lime. You might want to add a little more vinaigrette. It really is up to you. Otherwise, I pour the remaining vinaigrette in a small bowl and place it on the table with some extra lime wedges. That way, guests can add whatever they prefer.

You can serve the salad directly from a big salad bowl or arrange in a large platter with a bed of mixed lettuce leaves, some sliced avocados, tomatoes and lime wedges. The latter is a fun way to eat on a hot summer day and your guests can serve themselves.

You can store the remaining vinaigrette in a sealed container in fridge and use it with other salads or raw veggies.

A grill pan.
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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

2 thoughts on “Mexican summer platter

  1. Hi Julie,
    This is a great sounding recipe for making during this heat wave. I will make this when John comes . The presentation is beautiful. You know me presentation is as important as taste!!! Still waiting for you to publish a recipe book???
    Hugs,
    Phyllis ( proud mother-in-law)

    1. Hi Grandma! Great idea to make this recipe when John is with you. He loves this! You guys will have a great time together. Such an exciting time for John right now! Think of me back here while I work away!

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