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Everything Quinoa Salad

21 Feb

I love quinoa salads.  There, I said it.  I realize I already have a few other quinoa salad recipes on my blog, but I keep coming up with new versions of the quinoa+beans+vegetables and/or fruits formula.  Today I made a salad that was sort of tropical, because it has some mango and plantain, but it’s special because it really has a little of everything.  Raisins, peas, mango, plantains, red and green onion, and more.  It also has a lime juice-based dressing, which I adore.  There is no super strong flavor in this salad.  It’s really a mix a many equally wonderful flavors and textures.


1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups water

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups of cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained

1 small mango, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

4 scallions, sliced thinly

1/4 cup chopped red onioin

1/2 sliced steamed or sauteed plantain

Pepper and salt to taste

Juice of 2 limes, about 1/4 cup

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T red wine vinegar

1 T agave nectar or honey


Cook the quinoa (this is a good step to do the day before, since the quinoa needs to cool completely).  Bring the water and salt to a boil, add the quinoa, and turn down to medium low heat.  Cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed.  Set aside to cool.

Combine chickpeas, cooled quinoa, mango, pepper, cilantro, raisins, plantain, peas, red onion, and green onion.  Make the dressing.  Combine the lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, and agave nectar in a bowl and whisk together.  Add to the salad and mix until well-combined.  Taste, and add salt if needed.  Add pepper to taste.


Colombian Beans

16 Feb

This recipe is loosely based on the Colombian-Style Red Beans from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan, though I made several small changes.  I’ve been intrigued about traveling to Colombia, and until I can actually go, I plan to make Colombian food!  So far I’ve made these beans and arepas (like really thick corn tortillas–heaven!  I’ll post about those some other day).  I made a special trip to my local Fiesta Supermarket, which sells anything Latin you can imagine.  Previously I had searched for the beans I needed for this dish, bola roja or cargamanto beans, which are both common in Colombian cooking, in several grocery stores.  However, Fiesta seems to be the only store in Austin that carries these beans, though they can also be ordered online.  I bought a bag of the Goya brand bola roja beans, and they are so beautiful!  And they are definitely bola roja (red ball)-shaped.  They are definitely more expensive than other varieties of red beans, but totally worth it, at least for the novelty factor.

I cooked my own beans for this, but if you are pressed for time use canned red beans for this recipe.  Beans can be cooked a day or two ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to complete the remaining steps.


8 oz. dry bola roja or cargamanto beans, or 2 cans of red beans, rinsed and drained (should be about 4 cups of cooked beans)

1-2 T olive oil

1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

3-4 cups vegetable broth or water

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper


To cook the beans:

Soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse the soaked beans.  Place in a medium to large pot, cover with water (about 5 or 6 cups of water).  Turn the burner on high and bring the beans to a boil.  Once the beans start to boil, turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook for about 2 hours.  Check occasionally to ensure there is enough water.  Beans are done once tender. 

To prepare the final dish

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the oregano, paprika, cumin, and then the beans and water or broth.  Add salt, about 1 tsp to start.  You can always add more later if needed.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to medium low, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, taste and add salt if needed. 

Smoky Black Bean Quinoa Salad

9 Dec

I recently started volunteering at the Sustainable Food Center.  My first major task was helping with a project to test several recipes for the revision of the Happy Kitchen cookbook, and important part of the SFC’s Happy Kitchen cooking class program.  I picked Smoky Black Bean Salad and Cranberry Sauce.  I had a lot of fun doing this and testing the recipes with different groups to get their feedback.  This particular recipe I’ve made my own, by upping the chipotle and cilantro, and adding some more color with the carrot and red bell pepper.  The salad makes for a really nice, light meal paired with some soup or a vegetable dish, or by itself.  Last night I ate a plate of this salad with some roasted acorn squash I had left over with some honey drizzled over the top.  Yum!  Healthy dinner after a nice run. 


1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed

3-4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated with a box grater or finely chopped

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

1 tsp adobo sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp fine sea salt


First, rinse and drain the quinoa.  Bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add the quinoa, lower the heat to medium or medium low.  Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the quinoa to cool completely before proceeding with the remainder of the recipe.  If you use hot quinoa to make the salad, the texture becomes mushy. 

Place the quinoa in a large bowl suitable for mixing.  Add the black beans, green onions, carrot, red bell pepper, and cilantro.

Next, make the dressing.  Combine the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together until everything is well combined.  Add to the quinoa mixture and stir to mix until the dressing is well distributed.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Use the salad within a week of making it.

White Bean Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

31 Oct

I love bean salads.  They go beyond a typical vegetable-based salad and allow you to make just one dish as a meal since the beans make the salad so satisfying.  You can eat it with some good bread, and maybe throw in some soup too.  When I make bean salads, I typically cook the beans myself, because buying dried beans is significantly cheaper than buying canned.  Canned beans are very convenient, and I still use them on occasion, but cooking beans is not difficult.  It’s something that has to be contemplated ahead of time.  Typically I use my crock pot to cook beans while I’m away, and I have them ready when I get home on a week night.  I plan to do a post soon about how to cook beans, because it’s a basic, useful skill, but not entirely intuitive if you’ve never done it before.  This recipe is a favorite of mine, but think of it as a template and not an inflexible recipe.  The beans can be white navy beans, like I use here, chickpeas, black beans, or whatever you have or want to use.  The vegetables are flexible as well, just as with any salad.  I like to add large amounts of fresh herbs to my salads.  Anytime I see a recipe that calls for just a few teaspoons or tablespoons of chopped herbs, I almost always increase that amount several time.


1 1/2-2 cups cooked white navy beans or cannelini beans, or 1 can of beans, drained and rinsed

3-4 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped


1/3-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 T red or white wine vinegar

2 T dijon mustard

2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely

Drizzle of honey or 1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper


Combine the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the dressing ingredients to a small or medium bowl and whisk until well-combined.  You can also use a blender to make the dressing.  Stir the dressing into the salad, and stir until well-combined.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to allow the salad to marinate and flavors to combine.

Kale Class!

27 Oct

This week I invited my friend Karla to my place to show her three different ways of preparing kale.  We made kale pesto, ribollita, and raw kale salad.  Karla was surprised by how easy everything was to make.  I really love each of these dishes for different reasons, but I was excited about the ribollita.  Kale, white beans, bread, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and the rest, make a great soup.  Kale is one of those under-used, but oh-so-good for you vegetables.  Here is my contribution to show that there are many fantastic ways to get more kale into your diet.

Recipe #1:  Raw kale salad


1 bunch kale, any variety, washed and chopped

1/4 medium red onion, chopped

Handful pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Handful dried cranberries

Juice of one lemon

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2-1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper


Place the kale in a large bowl.  Squeeze the lemon juice on the kale, and add the olive oil and salt.  Massage the kale until it softens, about 1-2 minutes or so.  Add the onion, cranberries, and pepitas.  Add some freshly ground black pepper, and you’re done.

Recipe #2:  Kale Pesto


1/2 bunch of kale, washed and roughly chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp sea salt

Juice of one lemon


Add the garlic, walnuts, salt, lemon juice, and about half the kale to the food processor.  Pulse until the kale is roughly chopped.  Add the olive oil and the rest of the kale.  Process until the mixture is at a uniform pesto consistency.

Recipe #3:  Ribollita

(This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson at, though I didn’t copy it exactly.)


3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bunch (1 lb.) cavolo nero (aka dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale), washed and chopped

4 cups cooked white beans

1/2 pound white bread

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Zest of one lemon

Chopped black olives (I didn’t use these because I didn’t have them, but will try it next time.)


In a large pot suitable for soup, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion over medium heat.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking.  Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, simmering for another 10 minutes or so.  Stir in the kale, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the rest of the beans (the remaining 1 cup) in a bowl.  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.  Stir both the mashed beans and the bread into the soup.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, about 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed.  Stir in the lemon zest.

Serve immediately, drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped olives.

Makes about 10 servings.