« Other People's Pantries #117 | Main | Ground beef (Recipe: Chinese "spaghetti and meat sauce") »

Quinoa (Recipe: black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad with honey-lime vinaigrette) {vegan, gluten-free}

Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad with honey-lime vinaigrette: perfect picnic food.

I love mnemonics, the little tricks that help us remember the little things we always forget.

I before E, except after C.

Every good boy deserves fudge (the keys on a music scale). HOMES (the five Great Lakes). And my favorite mnemonic for clearing the paper mounds off my desk: Ohio (only handle it once).

Here's one I made up just for you. I'm keen on quinoa. But it's not just a way to remember how to pronounce this South American grain (KEEN-wah); I really love the nutty, light, couscous-like texture, and how it adapts to the flavors that surround it.

In the past, I haven't always been successful making quinoa on the stove top (I'm not great at stove top rice, either). I've overcooked and undercooked, and I'm pretty sure that picking quinoa off my stove after the pot boils over is not something I need to do ever again.

Now, thanks to Karina of Gluten-Free Goddess, I'm making quinoa the easy way: in a rice cooker. No muss, no fuss, and it's ready in 20 minutes.

What is quinoa?
The seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant, related to beets, chard and spinach; though it's considered one of the "Ancient grains", and cooks like a grain, it's not a grain at all.

How/where to store:
In the cupboard at room temperature, in a glass jar with an airtight lid, for up to one year.

More facts about quinoa, and ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Quinoa (Recipe: quinoa salad with tomato, feta and parsley)

Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad is a meal in a bowl!

Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad with honey-lime vinaigrette

With cooked black beans in the freezer, and quinoa made in the rice cooker, this dish comes together in minutes. It would be perfect for a picnic or potluck (double or triple the recipe), as a side dish to grilled salmon, or on its own for lunch. Serves 4-6.


1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, drained, or 2 cups cooked black beans
1 red bell pepper (or 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 orange or yellow pepper), diced
1 tsp minced jalapeño (optional)
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 tsp honey or agave nectar
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
Pinch of salt, or as needed


Place quinoa in a rice cooker with 2 cups of water; turn the cooker on and let it do its thing until it switches to "warm", approximately 20 minutes. Or, place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

Add cooked quinoa to a mixing bowl with black beans, red pepper, jalapeño and chopped scallion.

In a small jar, combine honey, lime juice, rice vinegar and canola oil. Add a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed (it should be a bit tart), and pour on the quinoa mixture. Toss to distribute the dressing evenly.

If you're not serving right away, toss the salad again before serving, and adjust seasoning (the dressing will absorb into the quinoa, and the salad might need an additional bit of moisture if it sits for a while).

More quinoa recipes:
Quinoa turkey meatloaf, from The Perfect Pantry
Red quinoa salad, from Tea & Cookies
Quinoa salad with arugula, asparagus and avocado, from Cooking with Amy

Black bean, quinoa and red pepper salad: a meal in a bowl!

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


it looks delicious. I at the moment have a little obsession going with red quinoa.
I love it it looks stunning, it tastes delicious and it`s easy and fast.
Greetings from Germany

I've always been puzzled at the term "ancient grains." The people you referred to, who invoke this category, often mean anything except wheat -- which they have bad theories about because it's in white bread or something.

But in fact, wheat was domesticated earlier than any but millet (and wheat's precursors emmet and einkorn, which are now pretty much unknown). Spelt and new world grains like maize were all domesticated a couple thousand years later than wheat; oats are 7000 years later.

Do you know the history of the "ancient grains" theory?

(My source is the online Food Timeline:
http://www.foodtimeline.org/ )

Looks delicious! Great summer cookout side dish and this would be awesome in a salad for lunch.

I love quinoa. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is in a salad-like dish like this. Or as a sub for couscous in tabbouleh. Or as a sub for oatmeal for breakfast...yum!

About the "ancient grains" issue: I think it has to do with grains that are in their ancient form, close to the source. Wheat has been hybridized substantially (since Mendel, no doubt), which seems to promote sensitivity. Grains (or look-like-grains, like quinoa and buckwheat) closer to the ancient form seem more acceptable to a sensitive digestion.
Actually, quinoa makes a good sub for couscous or bulgur, and has a great nutrition profile, once you get used to those little curly tails.
And about boilovers -- I've had plenty, so you remind me of my solution: use a bigger pot -- will boil up, not over. But I'm game to try the rice cooker. Mine was a thrift store find, with no instructions; works, but seems to take a very long time. (National brand, not on Google -- any advice?)

and it's super good for you too! this is a good breakfast that will hold you for a long time.

Thanks Lydia! I've been trying to have more grain salads and this looks delish! I also make quinoa and all my grains in my rice cooker!

I have recently started enjoying quinoa. One of the advanatges of growing up in south Florida is that I learned about using the rice cooker early-it makes for perfect rice everytime.

Your quinoa salad looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

wic, I love red quinoa too. It's a bit harder to find in the markets here.

Mae, Susan: Thanks for the interesting discussion about the notion of ancient grains. I would have said, similar to Susan's comment, that the term "ancient grains" seems to refer to grains that have been subjected to less processing than wheat.

Maris, this would be a great take-along dish for lunch. It will last for several days in the fridge, but the quinoa tends to absorb the dressing, so you might need to make more dressing after a day or two.

Alta, Vanillasugar: I've never had quinoa for breakfast. What a great idea!

Pam, Velva: I use my rice cooker all the time, but believe it or not, this is the first time for quinoa. I'm never going back to stove top for this.

Love this salad. The vinaigrette sounds really nice! I make a similar salad with quinoa using fresh mint, diced veggies and chick peas with a Greek-style dressing. Such a lovely alternative to pasta or rice!

That is it - you have convinced me. I am going to make the move and get a rice cooker. I keep a very limited amount of appliances (can count them on one hand) as I have a small kitchen and limited storage space. but I am a terrible rice cooker and never even attempt anything else like quinoa since it involves the dreaded "boil-over!"
thanks again for the great recipes!

About rice cookers: there are alternatives if you don't want to own a million appliances.
I have an all-purpose steamer that works well for various grains including brown, white, and wild rice; wheat berries, and no doubt quinoa. It also steams artichokes, broccoli, and other vegetables if I don't want to steam them in the microwave. And in fact, the microwave is an alternative for steaming rice too -- just be sure to use a deep enough container to avoid boil-over.

Thanks for the explanation about ancient grains.

I don't make quinoa enough. Love your recipe. I will be trying it soon!

Ever since I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru with Ted and his family where we had quinoa often, I have been a big fan . I mix a bit of quinoa with steel cut oats (1 part quinoa to 3 or 4 parts oats) to make a nutty nutritious oatmeal for breakfast. I make a batch on the weekend, refrigerate, and microwave single portions with milk and cinnamon or cardoman before going to work.

Oooh I'm keen on quinoa too! I made a similar salad a while ago, but your dressing sounds more amazing!!

Susan, I can't wait until the mint comes up in my garden; I love the idea of adding it to this salad.

Carol, check out the markets in Boston's Chinatown. That's where I buy my rice cookers. Lots of inexpensive options, especially for your first one.

Mae, great suggestion to use the microwave. I've actually never tried steaming rice or grains in mine, so I'm glad to know it works well.

Maria, I plan to make it more often, too, now that I know an easy way to cook it.

Cousin, that sounds like a delicious breakfast. Now, if only I liked oatmeal....

Sues, this really is a light and tangy dressing that would be delicious on any grain salad.

Well, I will no longer mangle the word KEEN-wah. Now, I need to get working on the state of my desk ...

This looks like a yummy salad!

I actually thought this recipe was on 101 cookbooks (lots of grain recipes there)and spent sometime trying to find it again.
It's great to get new ideas for my pantry staples. I used Black quinoa with white kidney beans(can),green beans and your dressing with toasted almonds.
Loved the light fruity dressing which is so easy to make. Can't put the bowl down;yummy

Just wanted to let you know-- I found this recipe a few years ago, and now it's a potluck standard in my house. Your site is great, I've learned a lot here.

This looks wonderful! Love all the flavors you put together.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.