Enjoy a layered lunch with this portable, Mexican-inspired quinoa salad. To save time, make a big batch of quinoa, and freeze it in resealable bags for up to 1 month. Having a whole-grain arsenal in your freezer will help cut down on prep time later.
Special equipment: Four 16-oz wide-mouthed glass jars with lids
Make the quinoa: Bring the quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until the quinoa is tender (the little tails will pop out) and most of the water is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain off any excess water. Stir in the cilantro, scallions, oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The quinoa can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Microwave just enough to take the chill off, about 2 minutes, stirring about halfway through.)
Make the avocado cream: Process or blend the avocado, sour cream, Parmesan, lime juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons water, cayenne and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
If the corn still has a chill, microwave it for about 1 minute.
Assemble the salads: Using four 16-ounce wide-mouthed glass jars with lids, divide the quinoa evenly among the jars, then add the following in separate layers: the corn, chicken, salsa, avocado cream and pepitas. Pack the crushed tortilla chips (about 1/4 cup per salad) and lime wedges in separate small containers for transporting.
Just before serving, transfer the jarred ingredients to a large bowl, add the tortilla chips and a squeeze of lime juice and toss.