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Healthy Side Dish for Grilling Season: Quinoa and Pico de Gallo Salad

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Healthy Side Dish for Grilling Season: Quinoa and Pico de Gallo Salad

Servings: About 8 – 10

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

A Simple and Guilt-Free side Dish That Won’t Cramp Your Bikini Style.

If you’re familiar with the Mexican “Pico de Gallo” you already know it goes well with everything on your list of grilling season foods. Besides, what’s simpler to make than chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and peppers? Now imagine that combination mixed in with a super food like Quinoa to kickoff your summer and keep you in that tight body you perfected all winter. The result is a salad nothing short of fantastic. But before I jump into the recipe, I’d like to share with you six interesting facts I recently discovered about this South American seed…

Quinoa Salad7_AzucarandSpice

Quinoa and Pico de Gallo Salad – Azcúar & Spice

6 Awesome Facts About Quinoa: 

1. It’s pronounced KEEN-wah. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and low in calories and carbs. It also has twice as much fiber as oatmeal and contains all nine essential amino acids which make it a complete source of protein.

2. It’s NOT a grain. It’s the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. People sometimes think of quinoa as a grain because it’s cooked like one and often substituted for rice and wheat.

3. Originally from South America. Cultivated in the South American Andes since about 3,000 B.C. It’s now also grown in Canada and some parts of the U.S. like Colorado.

Cooked Quinoa1_AzucarandSpice

Quinoa – Cooked

4. Officially a “Super Crop”. Quinoa is draught resistant and grows well without proper irrigation or fertilizer. Pronounced by The United Nations as a “super crop” for its potential to feed the hungry and poor populations of the world.

5. It almost disappeared. The Incas referred to this sacred seed as the “mother of all grains” (even though it’s a seed). They also considered it sacred and used it in most of their rituals and ceremonies. Which is why Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro destroyed most of the Quinoa fields in the 1500’s, as a political move meant to undermine the Incan culture. Sadly, Pizarro succeeded and quinoa almost disappeared until the 20th century when it was re-discovered and promoted for its nutritional value.

6. It’s squeaky clean. It’s important to rinse off the quinoa seeds before you cook them to remove the powdery bitter coating called “saponin”. In South America, the saponin, from the quinoa is removed and used as a “detergent to wash clothes and as an antiseptic used on skin injuries“.


Cilantro, tomatoes, onions & peppers = Pico de Gallo

I came across a version of this recipe in Goya’s Healthy, Tasty, Affordable Latin Cooking booklet. This is a short collection of about 10 meals that Goya is promoting through the USDA’s MyPlate initiative. You can access all 10 meals and recipes in English here or in Spanish here. Although the Goya Quinoa Salad recipe calls for several of their products, which I’ve also tried, I prefer to use fresh instead of canned ingredients as much as possible.

The recipe I’ve made is an adaptation from the one on Goya’s website, which I re-named: Quinoa and Pico de Gallo Salad. So throw on that new bathing suit because baby, you’ve earned it! And kickoff your summer eating healthy but without compromising flavor. If you’re interested, the nutritional value per serving is listed at the bottom of the recipe.

!Buen Provecho!

YOUR TURN: What are some of your favorite grilling season foods? Share your answers on the comments below.


Quinoa and Pico de Gallo Salad


4 Cups of water

3 tsp. of reduced sodium Better than Bouillon Chicken Base (Substitute with your preferred chicken base brand, but don’t leave this out.)

1 Cup of uncooked white Quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup fresh chopped tomato

1/2 cup finely diced white onion

1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 TBSP finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil



1. BOIL 4 cups of water with the chicken base in a medium saucepan. *The chicken or veggie broth will add flavor to the otherwise bland quinoa.

2. ADD the quinoa to the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 minutes.

3. STRAIN and let the quinoa rinse completely.

4. COMBINE the cooled quinoa with the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lemon juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl.

5. MIX all the ingredients well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa Salad_AzúcarandSpice

Quinoa & Pico de Gallo Salad – Azúcar & Spice

Quinoa Salad_AzucarandSpice

Quinoa & Pico de Gallo Salad – Azúcar & Spice

Nutritional Value: (Based on the ingredients I used in this recipe)

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Calories: 90

Fat: 4.5 g

Carbohydrates: 13 g

Protein: 3 g

Fiber: 4 g

Sodium: 200 mg

Quinoa Facts and great sources:

O.A. (mobile)

World’s Healthiest Foods

Grain-Free Living


About Maribel

Bilingual digital media and marketing pro | blogger| foodie | fashionista | philanthropist #NotTheCoolGirl

One response »

  1. Pingback: Ultimate List of Quinoa Recipes | From This Kitchen Table

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