Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Between Seasons Doldrums aka Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad with Avocado Dressing

What to cook?

What to eat??

What to post about???

It's that time of year (here at least) when we're in between seasons - too early for summery stuff, too tired of all the wintery stuff.

Just blah.

Apparently this is an annual affliction for me.

I was looking through the old food blog I used to do at Healthy Writer and found this from May 13, 2013.

Blizzards in April, snow storms in May.
We have a freeze warning tonight!
All of which is just an excuse for why it’s taking me so long to get into my spring/summer healthy mentality.
The allure of soups has worn thin as winter dragged on
and on
and on.
Roasted vegetables, so delicious back in November, are getting boring.
Still, it’s hard to drum up enthusiasm for those summer salads when you’re still wrapped in sweaters and winter coats!

Sound familiar?

I know some of you in other parts of the country are well into the warm weather, and we've had a few days, but they don't seem to hang around.

So I settled on this summery dish to pick up my spirits. I may have actually posted an in-progress rendition of it a few years back, but it seems just what I need right now.

A health food restaurant in my neighborhood sells an amazing Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad with Avocado Dressing that my daughter and I love. I wanted to try to duplicate it at home. Most of the duplication was easy; only the dressing gave me fits.

So here’s the easy part:
Quinoa – Do you cook with quinoa? It’s easy to make, so healthy, and has a nice nutty bite.
Black beans – I used Goya canned beans.
Corn –Have you ever tried cooking corn on the cob in the microwave with husks still on?  Missy Tippens taught me about that right here at Yankee Belle Cafe. For this recipe I nuked it, then cut it off the cob and chilled it.
In my opinion the corn was the best part!
Greens – I used a package of mesclun greens because they’re my favorite salad greens. I love the variety.
Red onion thinly sliced – This gives the salad a nice zing.
Tomatoes – I used little red grape tomatoes.
Avocado slices for the salad – yum
Toasted tortilla strips – for these, I decided to make my own. Sort of. 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 because it seems to make them easier to digest) 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. I wasn’t totally thrilled with that version so I did some after the fact googling and found this recipe from  Trader Joe’s. I think it would have been better so I may try it tonight.
So mix the dressing in with the cold quinoa and arrange on the bed of greens, add the beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, avocado, and top with the toasted tortilla strips.

Isn’t that pretty?
Delicious too! Which is why I’ve been craving it.
Do you ever try to duplicate meals you’ve had in restaurants? How does it work for you?

*Sad note since I originally wrote this - the health department closed that restaurant!!!!

An even better reason to make it at home.

I'm also over on Craftie Ladies today talking about the role of food in our books - both for us as readers and writers.


  1. This sounds so good! I love things like this. I'll have to try it!

    1. Let me know what you think, Missy. I hope you enjoy.

  2. This looks quite interesting. I have copied chopped salad from a restaurant and Chipolte's Burrito bowl with so much success we never eat at either restaurant. I'd like to be able to make a few Outback recipes next.

    1. It's a good combination of tastes, Tina. Good luck with the Outback recipes.

  3. Yum! This sounds so good, Mary Cate. Lots of tasty ingredients. I just might have to give this a go.

    1. Glad to have something that appeals (unlike my usual strange ingredients, eh, Mindy?

  4. We are in that back and forth place between winter and spring, too! Snow today, but too warm for it to stick, so everything is wet, cold and miserable...except for my spot next to the wood stove!

    This salad looks fabulous for a main dish! I'll have to keep the ingredients on hand for my lunches, when things warm up. :)

    1. Jan, I was thinking of your blizzard comment the other day as I was typing this. Sorry for the miserable weather, but I'm glad I gave you something to look forward to.

  5. Brrr...I was back in my winter coat and mitts on my way to physio this morning so thinking salad is a stretch. I'm making comfort food mac & cheese today, because snow at the end of April requires major comfort food in my humble opinion which is why I am also making rice pudding for dessert. LOL

    But -- yes, when it warms up next week I'll be thinking salad again and this one is sooooo beautiful. I love it when food has vibrant colour. I haven't had huge success making quinoa at home but I'll give it a whirl again. I always enjoy it when I'm out and about.

    1. I hear you, Kav. Our weather looks lovely today - from inside. But when you step out, there's all that chill air and wind and POLLEN!

  6. I miss corn. I keep wracking my brain for a substitute. Maybe I'll add more veggies and pretend I'm not missing anything. :-)

    1. Julie, I was just thinking of you and that it would be a problem. Hmmmm, garden peas maybe?

  7. Sounds good, especially for our summers! I'm not a black bean fan. Any recommendations for a replacement? Thanks!

    Nancy C

    1. Nancy, I guess that depends. Do you like any beans? If you just don't like black beans, I'm sure garbanzos or kidney beans would work as well.

      If you don't like beans at all, I'm not sure what could substitute. I'll think on it.

    2. Garbanzo beans! That would work. Thanks! I love beans -- just not black beans :-)