Story and images provided by Karyl Henry, KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com
Let’s face it…the holidays are hard on your waistline. Between treats in the office from clients, holiday parties, and family gatherings, it’s food and drinks at every turn. I don’t trust anyone who says they avoid it all! That’s impossible, and quite honestly, not fun. Life is too short, and sometimes you just have to treat yourself.
January is the time when most people kick off those good eating and workout habits. The gym is absolutely packed for the first couple of weeks, and everyone is on a mission to completely clean up their eating. Yes, I’ve fallen prey to those New Year’s Resolutions. But honestly, they almost never last. So instead I make smaller steps, by adding an extra day or two a week of eating healthier, so that when I do indulge it doesn’t derail me.
Quinoa is one of the foods I use to eat cleaner. Quinoa is a complete protein, it is high in both fiber and iron, and it is an overall good-for-you superfood. I don’t eat quinoa as much as I should, but when I am on a quinoa kick I’ll eat it a couple of times a week. My two other quinoa recipes on the blog are:
- Kale and Quinoa Patties
- Asian Quinoa Meatballs
I make these recipes quite often, but I’m always on the lookout for more options.
The first time I made quinoa I cooked it in water…and nearly threw it out. Quinoa in water tastes like wallpaper paste. After that, I was seriously gun-shy, and it was about 6 months before I tried it again. I cooked it in chicken broth, and the difference was like that between night and day. Eventually I learned to make homemade vegetable broth, and have never looked back. Broth adds such wonderful flavor to the quinoa, and homemade broth has a much greater depth of flavor than boxed. I still keep boxed broth in the fridge, for in a pinch, but that doesn’t happen often, because I make a big batch of broth, freeze it in ice cube trays, and almost always have a bag of cubes handy.
For a long time I used white quinoa, which is the most common type. Then my mom found tri-color quinoa; I keep both in the pantry, and use them interchangeably. The tri-color quinoa has a heartier texture than white, but the flavors are identical.
Eating plain quinoa as a side just isn’t my thing, I wanted something that has flavor, color, and texture. I get all of that and more with my Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad.
This Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad is so delicious! I love the flavor combination, and the bold colors throughout.
WHAT’S THE STEAK IN MY STEAK FAJITA QUINOA SALAD?
I use flank steak for Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad. The most important thing with flank steak is to slice it AGAINST the grain. If you cut with the grain, the meat will be very fibrous and tough; cut against the grain, and the meat practically melts in your mouth. I season the flank steak lightly with fajita seasoning and marinate it in a combination of orange juice and soy sauce, a technique I learned when I had the most amazing fajitas at Mama Roja in Oklahoma City. Just 30 minutes in the marinade creates the most tender, delicious meat.
Of course, you don’t have to use flank steak for Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad. Some other options include:
- Ribeye – my favorite cut of meat, so I’m a little partial to it.
- Chicken – I am a dark meat girl, so I would recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Tofu – for a vegetarian spin, use extra firm tofu.
Or, skip the protein all together and just do the Quinoa Salad on its own. You can’t go wrong with any of these options.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE VEGGIES
Yes, the meat is an important factor of the Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad. But the veggies are just as critical. Otherwise it’s just steak and quinoa!
- Bell peppers – I use red and green, but of course you could use orange and/or yellow. Just use what you have.
- Corn – when fresh corn is in season, I use fresh. Otherwise, I use frozen.
- Jalapeno – I remove the ribs and seeds, because that’s where the searing heat is. And then I dice the jalapeno very small. It will still be a little spicy, but not overpowering. If you don’t like jalapeno, then skip it.
- Black beans – the beans add a nice, mellow flavor and more bulk and nutrition to the salad. Sometimes I’ll buy dry black beans, but I also usually keep canned black beans in the pantry. Either one works for this dish.
- Avocado – yes, avocado. The creamy avocado adds such a nice contrast in flavor to all the other veggies.
- Red onion – I add onion to everything, and red onion is milder than yellow.
I am definitely keeping this Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad as part of my main recipe rotation. It’s perfect for when you’re trying to eat cleaner or lighter, but it’s also just a delicious meal that will satisfy you for hours.
Steak Fajita Quinoa Salad from KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth (I use homemade)
- 8 ounces flank steak
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
- juice of 1/2 lime
FAJITA SEASONING (makes 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Season steak lightly with fajita seasoning. Add steak, soy sauce and marinade into a ziploc bag. Seal, massage marinade into steak, and put into the fridge for 25 minutes. Take bag out of fridge and let rest on the counter for about 5 minutes.
- Slice flank steak AGAINST the grain. Slices should be about 1/4″, so meat will cook quickly.
- Add quinoa to a cold pot. Over medium-low heat, toast quinoa for a few minutes, to release the natural oils and nutty flavor. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook for about 18 minutes. Remove and add to a large bowl.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add corn and saute for about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add bell peppers and red onions, and saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from skillet, and combine with black beans and quinoa.
- In same skillet over medium-high heat, add steak. Cook steak for about 2 minutes per side. Remove, and add to quinoa mixture.
- Add avocado and fresh lime juice to quinoa mixture. Combine fully, and serve. ENJOY!