What's On the Side: Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

I really love quinoa -- it's such a nutritional powerhouse -- but for whatever reason I haven't made it in quite some time. I rectified that error over the weekend when I made a batch of quinoa and black bean salad to share with friends over dinner.

Given its quick cooking time (about 15 minutes), quinoa is a snap to make. And its slightly nutty flavor lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations. For this quinoa and black bean salad (which I think would work just as well as an entree as it does as a side), I added black beans, red pepper, green onions, and a dressing made from lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and several different Tex-Mex style seasonings. Cilantro adds freshness to the salad and provides a nice counterbalance to all the other flavors. This simple and easy quinoa salad is the perfect addition to your next taco night. I know I can't wait to make (and eat!) it again.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary
2 cups water

1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
6-7 green onions, white and green parts sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced fine (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic, pressed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Add the quinoa and water to a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until water has been absorbed. Spread the cooked quinoa out on a plate and allow to cool.
2. After the quinoa has cooled slightly, spoon it into a large bowl. Stir in the black beans, sliced green onions, diced red pepper, and chopped cilantro.  
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
4. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors time to meld together. This salad can be served chilled or at room temperature.