Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad with Cilantro White Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is a great summer Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad consisting of little gem lettuce, jicama, corn, red onion, jalapeno, queso fresco and an easy to make cilantro white balsamic dressing.  Omit the cheese if you are vegan.  You can also add other veggies to this salad and make it your own….

Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad My birthday is on Labor Day this year, which is always exciting since it only comes every 7 years.  My mom and Clyde are coming to visit and to attend my beach potluck birthday party.  There will be a handful of my favorite people so needless to say I am very excited!

As I get older, I become more aware of what having faith means, at least to me.  Everyone experiences times when they need to have faith but it can be so challenging when you are in the middle of a crisis or you can’t see how it can work out.  There have been countless times in my life where everything worked out even though I couldn’t see how it would at the time.  During those times I would often hear my mom’s voice saying, “feel the fear and do it anyways”!  When I am having one of these moments in life I think back to a time when I chose to have faith and to go for something that scared me and how it always turned out even better.  The story below is one of those times.

Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad Many years ago, I had a stopover in Honolulu when I was on my way back home from New Zealand.  I had an open ended one year round trip ticket.  I had been in New Zealand for 2 months, so I had 10 more months left on my return leg of my ticket.  I did not want to go back to Venice, so I decided to see if my friend Jenna was in Hawaii.  She lived half the year in Santa Monica and the other half in Hawaii.  I called her when I got off the plane and luckily, she was there and she came to the airport to pick me up.  I was so excited because she happened to be with my good friend Alana.  I spent two weeks at Jenna’s parent’s house that was on the beach at Pipeline, which was a lot of fun!

One day we hitch hiked to town to shop for some food and Alana said to me, “let’s go to Maui.” I said “sure, why not?”  We told the surfer guy who had picked us up, how we planned to go to Maui and that Alana needed a backpack and a tent.  The guy told us that he had a backpack that she could have.  We couldn’t believe it, we were so stoked!  After we returned from shopping, Alana went home and called me a few minutes later to tell me that she found a sleeping bag.  We immediately booked our flight and we were off to Maui.

Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad We met a woman on the plane who had asked us where in Maui we were staying and we told her that we had no idea and that we planned to wing it.  She suggested that we should go to Paia and offered us a ride from the airport because there wasn’t any public transportation on Maui.  So, we took her up on her offer.  We saw a small campground close to town where we ended up pitching our tents.  We walked into town looking for a latte and something to eat.  There was a French cafe on one side of the street and a vegan cafe on the other.  We decided that we needed to eat and went to the vegan cafe first.

We started talking to the lady who owned the vegan cafe and she told us that she and her staff were all followers of the Essene religion.  This was the first time I had heard of it.  We told her that we had pitched our tents down the road and she encouraged us to go get our stuff before it got stolen.  She then offered us room and board in exchange for working in the cafe kitchen.  This was my introduction into sprouted raw food cooking.  We were so psyched!  We had lived with them for about a month when I just couldn’t take it anymore.  They had rules like no drinking and I wasn’t someone to be told what to do at the time.

Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad Alana stayed on and I went and got a job at the French cafe across the street “La Vie En Rose”.  A guy who had owned the property behind the cafe rented small camping spaces and he had one spot available.  There were two small campers and 5 other people living in tents.  I loved it!  The French cafe was owned and ran by two Basque men who were a lot of fun and taught me about Basque cooking.  They had the best espresso and homemade croissants I have ever had.  I was in heaven!  I ended up working there for 6 months and had the time of my life.  The moral of the story is that if you take a leap of faith, things will usually work out better than you could imagine.  There is more to this story that I may divulge in a future post.  What leaps of faith have you taken that

What leaps of faith have you taken that turned out better that you imagined?

3U9A9985 Thanks for stopping by CaliZona! To see what’s going on, you can follow me on  InstagramFacebookPinterest, TwitterBloglovin‘ or subscribe by e-mail to get the latest recipes.
Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad Recipe:

Approx. 8 Servings

This is a great summer Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad with little gem lettuce, jicama, corn, red onion, jalapeno, queso fresco and an easy cilantro white balsamic dressing.

  •  1 Cup Quinoa – your choice
  • 1 3/4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Bouillon Cube – vegetable – salt free
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1  Cloves Garlic -whole
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 2 Small Poblano Peppers (it depends on how much poblano you like) – roasted – destemmed – deseeded – diced
Cilantro Vinaigrette – if you like a lot of dressing, I recommend doubling.
  • 1 Cups Cilantro Leaves – packed
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons  White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Small Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • Dash Black Pepper
  • 3 – 4 Heads Little Gem Lettuce or 1 Small Head Romain – chopped into thin strips
  • 3/4 Cup Corn – fresh or frozen/thawed – or to taste
  • 1 Jalapeno – minced
  • 1 Cup Jicama – peeled – cubed
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – roughly chopped
  • Queso Fresco – crumbled – to taste
  • Manchego Cheese – finely shredded – to taste – optional

First, rinse the quinoa well then add all ingredients except the poblanos into a small saucepan.

 Bring to a boil then mash the bouillon and cover the pot, turn to medium-low, then simmer for 15 minutes for white and 20 minutes for black. (I recommend using a timer)

When finished cooking, remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for 5 more minutes.  Let cool.


Roast the poblanos on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.

Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half and remove the seeds, stems and dice.


Add all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.


In a large bowl, mix the poblano and lettuce into the quinoa.  Top with all the remaining veggies and serve with the vinaigrette and cheese on the side.

Roasted Poblano Quinoa Salad Health benefits:

Quinoa is a super food that is extremely nutrient rich as well as it is a complete protein source and high in fiber, which helps digestion and heart heath.   It contains more antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients than any other grain.  Unlike most grains quinoa has a significant amount of gamma-tocopherol of the vitamin E family, which helps some inflammatory issues.  It is a good source of magnesium that helps metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function, which is helpful for migraine headaches. Quinoa contains the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol even more than in cranberries.  It is helpful in regulation of blood sugar and also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma.  They are also helpful with the increase of oxygen helping the body to burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They are full of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.



  1. says

    Your mom’s advice is a great one that I’ll remember; I love a good scare. 🙂
    Ummm.. what leaps of faith I took that turned out good? I would have to say, eating a ‘BACON DONUT.’ 🙂

    • wavatar says

      Bahahaha, a bacon donut for sure! I was really scared because I had no Idea what I was doing, but yes, it all worked out and that was the point. Be scared, do it anyway and it will most likely turn out even better! Thanks for stopping by my dear friend! xO

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