Posted by: Deb Henry | 01/04/2010

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

My first installment for our SLC Veg/Food blog…

One of the most unusual and tasty grain salads I have ever stumbled upon is a salad made by Wild Oats (now Whole Foods) called Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) and Black Bean Salad. This substantial salad offers a healthy balance of vegetables and protein. It provides a wide range of textures, colors, and seasonings.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

When I first moved to Utah in 2007, I worked at Wild Oats (before it was bought by Whole Foods) for a year in the prepared food section, so I had an opportunity to learn a lot about nutrition and about some unique ingredients. Quinoa is an amazing food that is (or should be) a staple of any vegan diet as it has a high protein content (12-18%) and is an unusually complete protein source. “Complete” means that it contains ample amounts of the essential amino acids which cannot be synthesized by your body, so you have to ingest them.

Anyway — working at Wild Oats, I saw many versions of recipes. Our production employee was a machine that pumped out various versions of this salad since he couldn’t be bothered with measuring anything. (Now Whole Foods ships many of their salads to their stores to maintain quality control and our dependence on foreign oil.) I did manage to learn quite a few tricks from Dick though, and I will supplement will that knowledge. The original recipe is below and I will add more commentary afterward.

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed (I used 2 cups)
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh, canned, or frozen (I used frozen without cooking them to keep their enzymes intact)
1 red bell pepper
4 scallions, chopped (I used 6)
1 garlic clove, minced (jar of chopped garlic was in my fridge)
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped ( i used a tsp of coriander seed powder)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil (I used 2 Tbs)

Rinse* quinoa in a fine sieve under cold running water. Put quinoa into a pot with 2 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil**, then cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Fluff it a bit with a fork now and then to keep it from sticking. While quinoa is cooking, toss the beans, vinegar, corn, bell pepper, scallions, garlic and coriander in a large bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the lime juice, salt and cumin and pour in the oil while whisking. When quinoa is done cooking, toss it with the beans and vegetables. Then, drizzle the lime mixture over quinoa and vegetables and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I like it better the next day when all the tastes have had a chance to combine and be absorbed.)

*Natural quinoa contains bitter-tasting saponins, but most quinoa available in stores is ready to cook. I didn’t read that the quinoa was ready to cook until I was putting it away …and that was after a trip to the store for a fine sieve to wash it under. Whoops.

**Dick had the luxury of our commercial steamer and cooked the quinoa that way. You may want to use a rice cooker if you are comfortable with one. When the quinoa was done cooking, he spread it on parchment paper and refrigerated it to cool it before preparing the salad. You can find quinoa at Smiths or Whole Foods.

Lessons learned:

scallions = chives = green onions (right?), fresh coriander leaves seem difficult to find in SLC.  The lady at Whole Foods said I may be able to find them at Indian/ Asian stores.  I used a teaspoon of coriander seed powder from Whole Foods instead.  Many people used cilantro or parsley.  If you use fresh limes, rolling them on the counter with your palm will make the juice more available when you open them (thanks mom!) My first taste was very lime-y. The next day I could taste more of the flavors.

Some other versions of this recipe I found online added the following ingredients: sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, oregano and chipotle powder, different fresh herbs for the coriander, shredded carrot, green pepper, etc.

BOTTOM LINE: easy to make, keeps well, portable, get creative with the veggies and seasoning and let me know how it comes out!

PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS!! Suggestions as to where to buy any of the ingredients (cheaply or cheaper) in the valley are very welcome as we intend this blog to be a community experience.



  1. This sounds delicious, filling and nutritious—an auspicious beginning for a veggie blog. One note: I always thought coriander leaves and cilantro were the same thing. The internet seems to agree with me, although of course that’s never the last word.

    • Thanks Sean! Looks like Coriander = Cilantro = Chinese Parsley and that it should be added after everything is cooled to maximize flavor.

  2. Chives and Scallions are a bit different (scallions = green onions) but are not bad substitutions. I also assume that the black beans were canned.

    Sounds good. I make quinoa as a side dish often and usually have leftovers. Might be a good way to go vegi a few more days a week.

    Nice recipe.

    • Yes, canned. I’ll be better prepared the more I make them I hope 🙂

  3. i think i’m going to make that for work next week! yum. 🙂 i’d like to see a picture!!

    • Added!

  4. Thank you for posting this recipe. It was one of my favorites from Wild Oats!! Now i can make it right. Thanks!!!!

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