In the December Food and Wine, there was a story about Boston chef Ken Oringer and the tailgate party he hosts on the day he cuts down his Christmas tree. The picnic menu for this party was a really good one, and I have to keep the pages I cut from the magazine because I’d like to recreate the entire thing some day. It included cubano sandwiches, this black bean and quinoa salad, mulled cider, an avocado, grapefruit, and hearts of palm salad, artichoke and spinach dip with spiced pita chips, and caramel pecan bars. Reading that list again just now made me a little hungry. Last week, I wasn’t ready to throw a picnic party and prepare all of that, but I had a plan for jibaritos and thought this salad would fit well with them. As usual, when I cook dried beans, I cook a lot of them at once. I planned ahead, cooked a lot of beans, set aside the amount needed for this recipe, and stored the extra beans in the freezer for future uses. With the black beans already cooked, prepping the salad was quick and easy.
First, the quinoa was cooked and then spread on a sheet pan to cool quickly. A dressing was made by whisking together sherry vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, and a chopped chipotle chile, and then olive oil was incorporated. Sliced scallions, minced red onion, finely diced yellow pepper, and chopped cilantro were combined with the cooked and cooled black beans and quinoa. The dressing was poured over the mixture, it was tossed to combine, seasoning was checked, and that was it.
The salad is so full of flavor and varied textures you won’t even pause to think about how healthy it is. The chipotle added a little spiciness, and you could increase that and taste as you go while making the dressing. Obviously, you could change the vegetables in the salad, but the ones suggested were a nice mix of colors with the yellow pepper against the black beans and flecks of green cilantro and scallions here and there. This makes a very large quantity of salad, but it stores well in the refrigerator. It’s also great on a bed of arugula and topped with some crumbled feta, so I didn’t mind having a big bowl of it in the refrigerator for a few days.