the taste space

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on November 18, 2010


Continuing with our quasi superfood theme, now is the time for quinoa to shine.  Also hailing originally from South America (so was amaranth), quinoa was called the mother of all grains by the Incas. Technically it is not a whole grain, rather the seed from the goosefoot plant.

It has gained notoreity as an excellent plant-source of complete protein. Wheat and rice are low in lysine, which is why they need to be paired with beans to get the complete set of amino acids to form protein. It is also high in fibre, B vitamins, gluten-free and supposedly easy to digest.


I have cooked with quinoa before, but I had had issues with it in my pre-blogging days. You need to wash it thoroughly before you cook it to remove the soapy/bitter-tasting saponins that are naturally present in the seed. Most of the time, this has already been removed during its processing, but I am convinced I had a bad batch once (I blame Bulk Barn!) and I shunned quinoa for quite some time. Now that I buy organic quinoa through Bob’s Red Mill, I haven’t had any problems.

It is easy to substitute quinoa anywhere you’d use rice and just as easy to prepare (2:1 boiling water:quinoa and simmer for 12-15 minutes). You can even make it in a rice cooker.

Here, I made a Mexican quinoa salad bursting with flavour from tomatoes, green onions and black beans with a minty-lime vinaigrette. The flavour depends entirely on the flavour of your fresh tomatoes. The dressing is a bit subtle, but a nice supporting cast. The salad is deceivingly filling, so I ate it as a main course salad.

Now I know I just told you how easy it is to boil your quinoa, but the directions for this salad were courtesy of Gourmet (July 2007). First, you partially simmer your quinoa and finish the cooking process with steaming. This made the most fluffy quinoa I have ever had. If you have the time, this is the ultimate way to prepare quinoa.

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring quinoa, to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays, to Torview’s food palette series featuring red and white dishes, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, and to this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods, featuring quinoa.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup quinoa
2 cups black beans or 1 (19-ounce) can, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1. Whisk together lime zest and juice, oil, maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

2. Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.

3. Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.

4. Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

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18 Responses

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  1. CurryLeaf said, on November 18, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Very healthy and nutritious salad.Quinoa is rare and very expensive in India.So I am giving NCR a miss this time

  2. Joanne said, on November 18, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Mmm quinoa is one of my favorite whole grains for a lot of reasons but partially because it is so much faster to cook! I love it with southwestern flavors like this. What a great salad! Thanks for the tips on the cooking technique!

  3. Kalynskitchen said, on November 18, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Looks like a delicious dish!

  4. Rob said, on November 18, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    THE LITTLE TAILS! Those don’t look like cous cous at all ;)

    • Saveur said, on November 18, 2010 at 12:21 PM

      Googly eyes!! :) It is even better in soup because they become separated. :)

  5. Lisa Turner said, on November 18, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Such a lovely dish and beautiful images. Thanks for your submission to both the events I am hosting this month.

  6. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said, on November 18, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Wow, the presentation is so tempting.

  7. Priya said, on November 18, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Wat a complete, wholesome salad…very inviting..

  8. torviewtoronto said, on November 18, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    thank you for linking
    delicious colourful quinoa salad

  9. DebinHawaii said, on November 21, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    You gotta love quinoa–so much protein and good fiber. I love it paired with the black beans and the lime. Thanks for sending your salad to Souper Sundays.

  10. Sweet Artichoke said, on November 22, 2010 at 3:33 AM

    A delicious and healthy salad. Thanks for sharing the tip about steaming the quinoa, I have a tendency to overcook it, so this method sounds perfect!

  11. Ivonne said, on November 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Ah, Gourmet! How I miss you. You know I’ve only made quinoa once or twice but I have always really enjoyed it. Must make it more! It’s interesting because I try to avoid buying grains/legumes from Bulk Barn. Even though it’s more expensive, I prefer to buy grains in smaller packages like Bob’s Red Mill. Love the dish!

  12. [...] Janet of Taste Space made Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa Salad from the 2007 issue of Gourmet. [...]

  13. Couscous & Consciousness said, on November 23, 2010 at 4:19 AM

    This looks totally healthy and delicious – I would eat that for a main meal too :-) Also really like that way of cooking quinoa – I totally have to try that – thanks for sharing it.
    Sue

  14. torviewtoronto said, on December 6, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    thank you for linking it for the white

  15. Ashley said, on January 29, 2011 at 3:04 AM

    Yum this sounds simple and delicious! I’d love to eat some with a big scoop of guacamole on the side mm.

  16. [...] What’s not to like about the fluffy pebbles? I often use quinoa as a simple side to a stir fry or curry. Anywhere you’d typically think of rice, quinoa can substitute as a quick-cooking grain. Other times, I will use it as a base for a salad, as I find it works well with Mexican flavours. [...]

  17. […] Quinoa, possibly my favourite (pseudo)grain, has been a hard sell for my parents. To be fair, in Ottawa, the quinoa never seemed to cook properly. It was mushy and water-logged. I don’t know what was so different but it was a recurring theme. I recommended my standard technique: using less liquid (broth is more flavourful) and then let it sit, lid closed, to steam and help fluff it up. Another option (albeit more fussy) is to partially cook it, drain it and then steam the quinoa. […]


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