Today’s delicious dish – Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
Black beans, also known as turtle beans, are a great staple food. I’ve always got a can or two in my pantry. Like most beans, they are high in flavonoids, fiber, and protein, and are low on the glycemic index. The nutritional difference between canned and home cooked (from dried beans) is negligible, so there’s no need to feel badly about taking the easy way. Black beans have an interesting darkness to their flavor, and go well with many foods.
Here is a recipe for a wonderful salad in which canned black beans, red bell pepper, fresh parsley, and cooked quinoa are combined with a subtly-flavored vinaigrette dressing. This salad gets better with time and chilling – the quinoa and beans acquire flavor from the dressing and other ingredients. It is a lovely-looking salad, with shiny dark beans and whitey-beigey quinoa and bright red and green bits. There is texture contrast and flavor contrast, and the dressing gets a nice sharpness from the rice vinegar.
Be sure to drain and rinse the black beans, which washes away a fair amount of the sodium found in canned beans. If you really love red bell pepper, feel free to use more – you may need to increase the amount of dressing, to be sure all the ingredients are well-coated. This recipe calls for rice vinegar, which I think has the best flavor for this sort of salad – it is less sweet than other vinegars. There are a lot of kinds of rice vinegar, but I’d suggest you choose regular rice vinegar for this salad. If you don’t already have rice vinegar on hand, you should get a bottle – it has many uses and is different enough from apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar to earn a place in your cupboard.
If you want to serve this salad like a fancy restaurant would, pack a serving into a ramekin, pressing it down a bit. Then thunk the ramekin onto the plate, and you will have a nicely-shaped serving. It goes very well with all kinds of seafood and meats – we are lately loving this salad with salmon.
This recipe suggests side dish-sized servings of 2/3 cup. If you are having this as the main dish, you will want to offer servings at least double that size, and maybe you would want to add chicken or shrimp to make it feel like a meal.
Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup white quinoa
- 2 cans black beans (15.25 ounces each)
- 1/2 small red bell pepper
- 8 stems fresh parsley
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff, and let stand, covered, another 15 minutes. You should have about 2 cups cooked quinoa.
While quinoa rests, empty cans of beans into a colander. Rinse well with cool water and set aside to drain completely. You will have about 3 cups beans.
Core and clean red pepper half (be sure to remove seeds and white inner ribs), and dice into tiny bits. You should have about 1/3 cup diced red pepper.
Rinse parsley and dry well. Strip leaves from stems and discard stems. Mince parsley leaves into tiny bits. You should have about 2 Tablespoons minced parsley.
Whisk together olive oil, rice vinegar, and seasonings to make a dressing.
Combine cooked quinoa, drained beans, red pepper bits, parsley bits, and dressing. Toss well, then cover and chill at least 2 hours. Toss again before serving.
Makes 7 servings, each about 2/3 cup.
Nutritional information (per serving): 221 calories, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 8 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams sugars, 3 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 730 milligrams sodium
Cost per serving: 90 cents
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Chilling time: at least 2 hours
What happens next?
This salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. It makes a great light lunch or healthy snack. I usually portion it into small containers before refrigerating the leftovers – then it’s easy to grab a spoon and take a serving of Black Bean and Quinoa Salad from the refrigerator for a quick meal.
This salad can also be served in a pita bread or in a lettuce cup, and it is very yummy scooped up with chips. That’s what gave me the idea for the next recipe. It requires 2 servings of the salad, so be sure to put that much aside.
Another day’s delicious dish – Black Bean-Quinoa Dip
I love bean dip, whether it is as simple as some canned refried beans with cheese, or much more complicated than that. Beans become creamy and silky when pureed, making a dip that stays on a chip and feels very nice in the mouth.
This dip is quite easy and quick to make, with just a few ingredients. You really will need a food processor or blender to completely puree the salad. The recipe calls for taco sauce, and you should use your favorite taco sauce. I use Mild because I’m not a big fan of food that is too spicy. But you know best what you and your family will enjoy. You should probably start with half the amount and then taste to determine if you need more – you can always add, but you can’t take away.
Sour cream is added at the end, for richness and to smooth out the flavors. You can use reduced-fat, or even fat-free sour cream, if that’s your preference.
If you don’t have 2 servings of Black Bean and Quinoa Salad set aside, you could cook up 1/3 cup quinoa with 2/3 cup water, and combine with 1 can drained and rinsed black beans, 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper and 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley, 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar, a dash of salt, pepper, ground mustard, celery salt, oregano, and basil. Then you would proceed with the recipe.
Black Bean-Quinoa Dip
- 2 servings Black Bean and Quinoa Salad (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 1/4 cup taco sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup sour cream
Puree Black Bean and Quinoa Salad in food processor or blender until smooth.
Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add pureed mixture and taco sauce, and cook, stirring constantly, until hot and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and heat through. Serve with your choice of tortilla chips.
Makes 6 servings, each about 1/4 cup
Nutritional information (per serving): 126 calories, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 3 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram sugars, 1 gram fiber, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 311 milligrams sodium
Cost per serving: 55 cents
Preparation time: 30 minutes