Friday, August 3, 2012

Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mary Curry!

Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Salad
By Mary Curry 

Welcome to Interactive Friday where you help me figure out the best version of a recipe!

Last week when Missy posted her fabulous Green Goddess dressing, I mentioned a salad that I’ve enjoyed at a local café - Black bean, corn and quinoa salad with avocado dressing and tortilla strips. Missy asked me to post about it so that gave me a chance to go back and order it again.

I got it as take-out so I could take notes as I ate, but I need some help in perfecting the recipe.

Some of it is easy –

Quinoa – check

black beans – check

corn – cooked it in the microwave with husks still on the way Missy taught us here - - then cut it off the cob and chilled it.

In my opinion the corn was the best part!

greens – check

red onion thinly sliced – would have been a check except the one I bought had some weird black moldy looking stuff in it when I cut it open. Tasted NASTY so I skipped that part. That made me sad because the slices of red onion gave a nice zing to the café salad.

tomatoes – check. I used little red grape tomatoes

avocado slices for the salad – check

toasted tortilla strips – for these, I decided to make my own. Well, not really. I bought corn tortillas. My daughter chopped them into thin strips and then we toasted them in the oven. (Note: for this part, it’s better to toast longer on a low temperature. I did it on a higher temp and they got mostly chewy. I lowered it so they could just sort of dry out.)

Onwards to the salad

That first part is all pretty basic.  Just cook the quinoa and chill, prepare the beans however you like (I always cook them. Makes them easier to digest if you know what I mean.) and then chill.

Wash the greens.

When everything is chilled you’re ready for the dressing. This is where my copycatting fell apart.  What I made tasted good, but it wasn’t exactly right.

I took another avocado and juice from a lime and blended with some cilantro. Because I can’t get Virginia’s smelly feet comment out of my head, I went light on the cilantro.


Okay – so juice from a whole lime was waaaaay too much.  I’d say start with a tsp. of lime juice and add in to taste.

Except that you probably don’t want to do this dressing at all.

One of the things that complicated me figuring out the dressing is that it tastes different every time I go there. One time it was really creamy. Another time more liquidy. Hmmmm.

So I blended the avocado, too much lime juice (you should have seen the way my daughter’s face puckered!), cilantro and a dash of powdered garlic.  Honestly, once I added the garlic, it wasn’t too bad. I like lime juice anyway. I blended and blended (actually switched to the mini food processor because the blender wasn’t working) until I had something that kind of resembled  guacamole. I mixed that in with the cold quinoa and then arranged the whole thing on the bed of greens, added the beans, corn, tomatoes, (no onion), avocado, and topped with the toasted tortilla strips.


Isn’t that pretty?

It actually tasted really good too. There was just one problem (other than the lime juice and missing onion.) There really wasn’t any dressing on the lettuce.

At that point, I had the brainstorm I should have had back at the beginning. I Googled black bean corn avocado salad quinoa.

What do you know?  LOTS of results. And they have dressing recipes. *sigh* 

So here’s where you come in.

Take a look at some of these recipes, if you will, and tell me which you think sound best.
Or maybe you have an alternative suggestion.

Matt’s Mix  (This sounds good, but you have to buy something from him.)

I’m kind of leaning toward this one -  because I like the sense of a citrusy (lemon and lime) liquidy dressing and I think cumin might give it the bite it was missing. I might blend some avocado into it though.

Thoughts??? HELP???

Visit Mary Curry at The Healthy Writer Blog!


  1. This is SO weird. I was just reading a cookbook and it had a bunch of quinoa recipes. I was like, 'what on earth is THAT?'

    Good thing Mary is here to educate us! (Despite making a comment that soudns like I have smelly feet...)

    I'm with you on that last dressing. That would be great pairing!

    I love the way this looks, and it must have tasted delicious! And I love lime. Lots of it. So, I would probably have really enjoyed that pucker-y salad.

    1. Virginia, quinoa is hard to describe. I use it as a substitute for rice or pasta. You cook it the same as rice. The important thing is to rinse it first. Apparently it has some outer coating that is a bitter/soapy taste if you don't wash it.

      I like to use it for its protein. 9 grams/cup

      And for anyone who doesn't know - it's pronounced

    2. Because I can’t get Virginia’s smelly feet comment out of my head, I went light on the cilantro.

      (Despite making a comment that sounds like I have smelly feet...)

      See, this is why you're my critique partner. *g* you catch me when I accidentally insult someone.

    3. Accidentally, you say? Well then... carry on.

  2. This sounds delicious, Mary! And I'd add all the cilantro I wanted - it tastes heavenly to me.

    And no, smelly feet wouldn't taste heavenly. I've never equated cilantro and smelly feet...

    This actually reminds me of Tabouleh - a salad that was popular when I was in college. It tended to be a bit bland, since the seasonings relied on lemon juice and mint.

    I noticed a lot of the on-line recipes left out the bed of greens - I think it looks and sounds much better with them!

    This also sounds like the kind of salad I can mix up and use over a few days for lunches. I like the sound of that!

    1. Jan, you reminded me, I posted a Quinoa Tabouleh salad on Healthy Writer a few weeks ago.

      I do like regular Tabouleh (heavy on spices) but I think I like quinoa better in summer salads because it's not as heavy as the wheat.

      You're absolutely right about the other recipes not including the greens. I noticed that, but I'm just thinking that might affect the dressing recipe. Back to the drawing board (or test kitchen).

    2. Okay, and thanks for the pronunciation guide! I was too lazy to google.

  3. Hmmmm....this looks like the perfect accompaniment to bbq veggie burger. :-) But all those recipe links have smelly feet in the dressing recipe!!! I've never cooked with cilantro but after all the smelly feet comments on this blog, I'm not keen to try. LOL. I like the last one too because of the cumin. I bet that's Matt's secret ingredient that you have to buy from him.

    Tabouleh has mint leaves in it too -- I wonder if that would go with the avocado in this recipe? And fresh parsley. I'll definitely give this recipe a go -- without the smelly feet. :-)

    1. Kav, if you've never had cilantro, don't let the smelly feet put you off trying it. I love cilantro. You have to use it in moderation because it is strong, but it really adds a nice flavor in the same way arugula does for a bed of greens.

    2. Try the cilantro, Kav. It's absolutely delicious. Use it like any other fresh herb or as a garnish.

      My favorite way to use it is in Pico de Gallo. Mmmmmm....

    3. Okay, had to run to the grocery for a quick trip (milk, etc.), and couldn't pass up buying the ingredients for Pico de Gallo... but I forgot tortilla chips!

      I also bought Avocado so I could make this salad :)

      Never go to the store without a list...

    4. Yes! Try the cilantro! *snicker snicker*

  4. I forgot to say that the best part of this is that you can make it and chill it so you don't have to have the oven on in the heat.

    Jan, yes, it does keep in the frig. I'm going on day 3 with this, but I keep the greens separate. Ashamed to admit it, but I've had this refrigerator for 11 years and I just learned how the crisper drawer works. Somehow I never saw those slider control thingies. They were always covered with food!

  5. LOL, Mary!! I'm glad you discovered your crisper drawer control! :)

    Great recipe!! Thanks so much for tasting the dish and figuring out a recipe for it! I'll go look at the dressings now and see which one I would like to try.

    1. Before I forget, I want to say that the recipe for the dressing from Trader Joe's sounds just like a dressing I had at a restaurant recently. It was SO good! Now I just have to remember where I was when I had it!

  6. Okay, I just finished reading all the recipes for dressing and like the Trader Joe's one since it has the olive oil. I'm an olive oil nut.

    Speaking of! I just bought a bottle of California grown olive oil. I can't wait to try it!

    1. I thought of throwing in some olive oil, Missy, but some recipe mentioned not needing extra fat because you had the avocado. But if we just make an olive oil vinaigrette and put the avocado on the side, that should work. Or we could put a bit of avocado in the dressing for flavor.

  7. I LOVE quinoa. It was one of the grains that saved me when I learned I was allergic to corn and wheat. Oh, CORN!!!!

    I am trying to find a good substitute for corn kernals. So many salads have them these days.

    Any suggestions? Because this salad looks grand otherwise.

    Oh, and Mary, I am eating your tuna, apple and walnut salad today!

    1. Oh enjoy, Julie! I keep wanting it but my frig has been giving me grief so I don't want to keep mayo in there.

      Substitutes for corn. Hmmmm.

      You could just leave it out. Or maybe add something like sunflower seeds or hemp seeds?

      Maybe some golden raisins but I'm not sure about mixing fruit with this.

      The same restaurant also has a delicious Autumn salad with apples and pears. Maybe I can do that for some future Friday.

    2. Would love you to share that sometime, Mary! Sounds yummy! I love a salad with pears and blue cheese. :)

    3. What do you think about Edamame as a substitute for corn? To me they have a similar texture and degree of sweetness.

    4. Do you hate corn? Or is it an allergy? What about pomegranate seeds? Or something chewy like cashews or crunchy like almond slivers.

      And YES, share that other recipe with the apples and pears! We're heading into apple season and our area has FIVE apple orchards that ship nationally and internationally. We can get a whole box for $15, and any of 6 varieties. We eat apples like maniacs wheh in season.

    5. That might work, Jan.

      Missy, that salad does have blue cheese. And they misunderstood when I asked for the cheese on the side since I was sharing with my Vegan daughter. They put it on the salad and gave me extra on the side. So you can understand how distressed I was the next day when it was 70 degrees INSIDE my refrigerator. Bye bye extra blue cheese.

    6. Virginia, color me apple green with envy!

      When we lived in Indiana we were a mile away from a large orchard and could get seconds for $7.00 per half bushel. We moved from there 12 years ago, and my children still won't eat any applesauce but homemade. Every year I scrounge for apples!

  8. Half a bushel? Is that the midwestern measurement? :D

    I think the boxes are about 40 pounds, huge things. And it's $15 at the start of the season, but if we want to make applesauce, we use the onces they think are too small, etc. and you can get those for $7 a box. We usually make cider but our cider press died last year.

    (Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I'd keep a gallon in the back of the fridge and let it get 'old'. Mmmmm. hard cider.)