Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer, although for anyone familiar with North Carolina weather, you know we'll be enjoying summer temperatures well past the premature debut of Pumpkin Lattes. I can't let the season close without sharing one of my favorite recipes, and with ripe tomatoes and sweet corn still plentiful right now, plan on making this well into September. It starts with quinoa, a gluten-free starch with a slightly crunchy texture and mild flavor that makes a great healthy base for this versatile salad. Adding vegetables and beans makes it a one dish wonder, plus this super-easy recipe can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature- which takes the pressure off when entertaining (or just for life in general when scrambling to get dinner on the table!). Feel free to use the recipe as a baseline and add in other favorite fresh vegetables or cheese- I often add feta and roasted red peppers to mine- or swap the tilapia for shrimp. Get creative and make it your own!
Spice-Rubbed Tilapia with Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Quinoa Salad (Serves 4)
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 ears Corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped
4 filets Tilapia
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 tsp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Dried Oregano
For the Salad:
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer for about 10 seconds. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. (You can use water instead, the broth simply adds more flavor.) Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. When slightly cooled, combine the quinoa with the corn kernels, tomatoes, black beans, lime juice, olive oil and cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the Tilapia:
Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder and oregano in a small bowl. Season the filets evenly with the mixture. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook filets until browned on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is opaque in the center. Serve the fish over the salad and enjoy!
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