Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

Here’s a recipe for those days when you don’t want to thaw anything out, turn anything on, wash any pots and pans, or buy anything special at the store. I make it with basic items I always have in the pantry or the fridge: cooked quinoa, cooked black beans, fresh tomatoes, shallots or red onions, parsley or cilantro, limes or lemons, olive oil, and a few spices. 

Whenever we do our meal prep, DP and I always make a large batch of quinoa or rice, and some kind of beans to mix and match during the week. Having both ready to go in the fridge can be a lazy cook’s lifesaver. But if not, the quinoa takes only 20 minutes to cook, and I always pressure cook the beans in our multi cooker now, which takes a third of the time it would take on the stove. We love our beans, and while canned beans are tasty and convenient, dried beans take so much less storage space, especially if you buy in bulk.

Consider this recipe a guide. I usually mix everything by eye, then adjust the flavors to taste. If I’m using cilantro, I’ll reach for lime juice and more of a Latin American flavor. If I’m using parsley then I’ll lean toward lemon juice for a more Middle Eastern profile. Try substituting lentils or chick peas for the black beans, or adding a little fresh mint to the mix. The combination of quinoa and beans makes this salad a great and versatile source of protein. Serve it as a complete meal on its own or use it as a base for a Buddha Bowl on your next meatless Monday. Or serve it as a side next to simply grilled fish, chicken, steak, or chops.

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

Ingredients, serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

3 cups cooked white quinoa*
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups fresh diced tomatoes 
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

4 to 5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne (optional)

Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and herbs. Toss with olive oil to just coat the ingredients.
  2. Add lime or lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time, mixing and tasting to your desired level of acidity.
  3. Add cumin, paprika, and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a little cayenne if you like a little more heat.

*To cook foolproof quinoa, rinse 2 cups white quinoa and drain very well. In a 2 to 3 quart saucepan, combine quinoa with 4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to a very low simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and let the quinoa rest, covered for 5 minutes more. Fluff with a fork before serving. Makes about 5 cups.

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