An Antidote For Holiday Bloat: Warm Bean & Quinoa Salad

buddha belly

I love Thanksgiving 'cause it's all about food and friends and family.  None of the gift pressure, less of the scrambling to get ready.  I look forward to the special foods we eat once a year . . . and then I know that afterwards, I need to rein it in again.

Friday night, we were all back on the sick train.  This reinforced my theory that we've had H1N1-lite - classic feeling better/thinking we're out of the woods then wham-o back down for the count.  In any case, D. and I wanted something clean, healthful and tasty for dinner, and this salad fit the bill.  It's adapted from a Ken Oringer recipe in the December Food & Wine. 

I used dried beans for this, so it's a more time-consuming process.  You could easily sub a couple of cans of beans for this - just rinse and drain them before you add them to the mix.   If you do want to use dry beans (they are cheap and far tastier than canned, and then you avoid the BPA headache), you could do as I did and prep the beans in the morning.  After they cooled, I put them in the fridge for later.  I let them come up to room temperature while I prepared the quinoa and chopped the veggies, then combined them all at the last minute. 

Whichever way you make it, this salad is colorful, warm, crunchy and smoky and a 180-degree difference from the rich, starchy, sweet deliciously-fattening goodness most of us enjoyed on Thursday . . . .

Warm Bean & Quinoa Salad

12 oz. dried beans - your choice, picked over and rinsed (I used black calypso beans from my CSA share, but black beans or kidney beans would also be great)
1 c. quinoa, rinsed (I used red quinoa, which makes anything extra colorful and pretty)
1 T. low-sodium soy sauce
3 T. sherry vinegar
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1/4 c. plus 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


 In a large saucepan, cover the beans with cold water and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain the beans.  Return them to the pot and cover with 3 inches of water.  Bring them to a boil and simmer over low heat until tender, about an hour.  Drain.

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

Place 2 T. of extra-virgin olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the onions and saute over low heat until translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and chipotle.  Add the olive oil, whisking until blended.  Add the beans, quinoa, scallions, red onion, yellow pepper and cilantro.  Toss to combine, then season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, tossing to combine again.

Serves 4 as a main-dish, generously.

This is one of those recipes that's even better day 2, after the flavors have blended.  It serves up nicely chilled from the fridge, making it a strong contender for next day lunches.