Published January 1, 2013.
For our quinoa salad recipe, we rinsed the grain to remove its bitter protective layer, and then toasted it to bring out its flavor before adding liquid to the pan. Spreading the cooked quinoa over a rimmed baking sheet to cool produced the fluffiest grains for our quinoa salad recipe.
Do not add oil or butter to the pot when toasting the quinoa, as it will make the grain taste slightly bitter. To make this dish spicier, add the chile seeds. After 12 minutes of cooking, there will still be a little bit of water in the pan, but this will evaporate as the quinoa cools.
1. Toast the quinoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water and is nearly tender, about 12 minutes. Spread the quinoa out over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside until it is tender and cool, about 20 minutes.
2. When the quinoa is cool, transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in the bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil, mustard, garlic, and cumin together, then pour over the quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
TO MAKE AHEAD: The quinoa salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; season with additional salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste before serving.