Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

Cook’s notes
: This excellent recipe is adapted from the Pam Anderson formula for bean and grain salads.

2 cups cooked quinoa
15-oz. can canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned corn, drained
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
4 thin-sliced scallions
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Dressing: 1/3 cup of your favorite vinaigrette: lemon vinaigrette

Following package instructions, cook the quinoa and place in a large bowl.

Add beans, veggies, cheese, and herbs to bowl.

When ready to serve, drizzle salad with your favorite vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Small batch version

  • 1/2 cup cooked grains
  • 1/2 cup beans
  • 3/4 cup veggies
  • 1/8 cup cheese
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs
  • 4 teaspoons dressing

Adapted from A Formula for Bean and Grain Salads — Three Many Cooks


Tuna and Pearl Couscous Salad

Cook’s notes: This recipe is based on author Pam Anderson’s Formula for Bean and Grain Salads. Ms. Anderson is one of my favorite cookbook authors. Her formula helped me make just the right dish for a supper potluck right after work. I made the pasta dish the night before, which let the flavors blend nicely. You can also use 1/3 cup your favorite vinaigrette instead of making the lemon dressing.

Yield: Makes about 7.5 cups; enough to feed a crowd

2 cups cooked pearl couscous
15 oz. can [2 cups] chickpeas, drained
2 cans tuna, drained (net 8 oz.) and flaked
1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, diced
1.5 cups roasted corn kernels
1/2 cup sliced olives
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 Tablespoons dried Italian herb blend

Dressing: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 4 teaspoons lemon juice.

Prepare couscous according to package directions; make the dressing while the grains cook. Place couscous in a large bowl with remaining ingredients (chickpeas to herb blend) and stir gently to combine.

Drizzle salad with dressing and toss to coat.

Best Recipe: Turkey Taco Salad


An amazing flavor combination, but not too spicy

Cook’s notes: This recipe is adapted from Alaska from Scratch, and it’s just terrific. The turkey mixture is enough for 6 servings. Leftovers are great for lunch. Note that the raw garlic in the dressing gets more pungent overnight. This salad has an excellent combination of flavors and textures, and the recipe is quite flexible.

Make the turkey mixture and the dressing, then assemble salads. You can also top them with a spoonful of guacamole.


Turkey mixture:
1 lb. (16 oz.) package ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Arizona Dreaming chili spice blend (from Penzeys)
1 can (14.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.25 oz.) organic corn kernels, drained

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with salt and taco seasoning and brown the meat, breaking it up with a spatula as you go. When cooked through, add the black beans and corn, heating through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or taco seasoning, as needed, to taste.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice [half a lime]
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assemble the salads (per person):

  • 3 oz. mixed greens
  • 1 oz. slightly crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup turkey, bean, and corn mixture
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 scallion, chopped
  • Cilantro Ranch dressing to taste
  • Salsa, if desired

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry

Cook’s notes: She originally called for 1 Tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce. The little bit of Tabasco was more than hot enough for me. I added red bell pepper and sweet potato and reduced the added sweetener. The roasted sweet potato was left over from another meal and was a nice addition. You could also steam a fresh sweet potato in the microwave if you don’t have leftovers.

  • Easy and delicious, ready in about 20 minutes. Leftover curry heats up well for lunches.
  • Likely gluten-free, definitely vegetarian/vegan
  • Makes 6 servings

1 package frozen brown rice

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Curry powder, any variety (we like the Penzeys brand)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 can (13.5 ounce) coconut milk
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (more to taste)
1 can (15 ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced cooked sweet potato

Cook the rice according to the package instructions.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to turn golden. Sprinkle in the curry powder and garlic and stir, cooking for another minute or so.

Pour in the vegetable stock and stir to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, add the chickpeas and sweet potato. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, sugar, or hot sauce.

Serve the curry over the rice.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s blog

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas

Cook’s notes: Modified from a Minimalist Baker recipe. I usually cook sweet potatoes in the microwave for convenience, but you really can’t beat the caramelization of the sweet potato when they roast in the oven. The chickpeas are delicious. This dish goes well with sauteed spinach or a salad.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with peel on
Olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese for serving

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner). Heat the oven to 400F.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Oil the cut face of the sweet potatoes and place them face-down on the lined pan. Lightly spray their tops with cooking spray. Pierce potato backs several times with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil, and the spices. Stir well to combine, making sure the chickpeas are coated well. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread them on the pan around the potato halves.

Bake 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and roasted through. (If needed, remove chickpeas from the pan and continue roasting remaining sweet potatoes for another 10 minutes.)

Peel the sweet potato halves after they are cooked. Break the potato surface with a fork. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and pile the chickpeas on top.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

Multigrain salad with beans and a lemon-cumin dressing

Multigrain salad with beans and a lemon-cumin dressing

Cook’s notes: I made this salad for our first Vegan Potluck club at work. Serves at least 4 people.

2 bags of Minute Rice multigrain medley (link): equivalent to 6 oz. raw quinoa / 4 servings when cooked

4 oz. (4 cups) baby spinach, wilted in a skillet with a little extra-virgin olive oil

15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette
Adapted from Chris Scheuer (changed honey to maple syrup)

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the multigrain medley or quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook the spinach.

Combine the cooked grains, spinach, chickpeas, and tomato.

Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined.

Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and stir to combine.

DISCLOSURE: This post is not sponsored by anyone. I paid for any products listed here and liked using them. This is my personal blog, and I am not compensated to create posts.

Cinnamon Chickpeas

Very crunchy on day 1

Very crunchy on day 1

These chickpeas are baked and make a crunchy vegan snack. I personally didn’t care for the softer texture on day 2, but you shouldn’t eat the entire batch by yourself! Use a savory spice blend on these, and they could be vegan/gluten free croutons in salad.

Changes: Used 1.5 Tablespoons maple sugar and 1.5 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice blend

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Best Recipe: Three-Bean Salad

Many bean salad: so delicious

Many bean salad: so delicious

Cook’s notes: My aunt in Alabama makes an incredible three-bean salad. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me, “Darling, you just take the Good Housekeeping recipe, double the vinegar and half the oil.” She also adds extra beans and corn and calls it “Hundred Bean Salad”. I increase the mustard as well, which goes nicely with the brightness of the lemon olive oil.

The original recipe called for red kidney, pinto, and and pink beans. However, you can use any combination of beans; each one is a 15 to 19 ounces. I like to use a dark, light, and medium color of bean for the contrast. The photo shows a mix of chili beans (kidney, black, and pinto), black beans, and garbanzo beans. Any 3 of 4 types of beans will do.

2/3 cup cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Meyer lemon olive oil
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cans beans, about 15 oz. each, rinsed and drained

Optional: 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Optional: 1/2 cup diced red onion

In large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper until blended.

Add beans and remaining ingredients; toss well. Serve salad at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing

Cook’s notes: This recipe reflects the flavors of our region and is simply delicious. We had leftover sweet potatoes to use. It is vegetarian (vegan) and quite hearty. 

Combine all items in a bowl:

2 cups cooked quinoa
1.5 steamed medium sweet potatoes: Scrub, pierce with a fork, and microwave it on the potato setting. Let cool, then peel and dice.
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes (or more, to taste), halved
1/2 to 3/4 avocado, diced
1 to 2 diced scallions

Add the dressing and stir to coat. 


Chili-Lime Dressing

This is easy to make in a mini food processor or blender. You can also put the dressing ingredients in a tightly sealed jar and shake vigorously to combine. Makes 1/2 cup.

3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Best Recipe: Black Panther Brownies

Cook’s notes: I have a friend who is gluten free and cannot have dairy (but eggs are OK for him). I used margarine instead of butter to meet his dietary needs with this recipe. Since these brownies contain eggs, they are not vegan. I used a yeast spoon (2-1/4 tsp, not just 2 tsp) to measure the vanilla extract. I used Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and high quality dark chocolate: a bar of Endangered Species brand natural dark chocolate with 88% cocoa (the “black panther” bar). This chocolate is certified vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

RAWWRRR…is how panthers say “amazing brownies”

More importantly, these brownies are awesome. You can’t taste the beans, but they add to the texture. They are my new favorite, even beyond conventional brownies.

(I did try to make a second batch vegan with 2 oz unsweetened applesauce instead of the egg, and they just didn’t set up right. Even after 90 minutes in the oven, they were still goopy. This technique is not recommended.)

Yield: 16 squares
Gluten free, dairy free (but not vegan)

15 oz cooked black beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)
3 eggs
1/3 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2+ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
3 oz bar dark chocolate with 88% cocoa, diced fine (chocolate chip size)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8×8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a blender, puree the black beans, eggs, melted margarine, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar. Blend until mixture is as smooth as possible.

Pour the brownie batter into the greased dish. Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the top. Use a spatula to push them down into the batter just a little (they will sink some while the brownies bake).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until brownies are set in the middle — check them at 45 minutes. Watch the edges for excess browning if you’re not sure they’re done.

Cool and then chill before serving. Store in fridge in covered container.


Source: Adapted from Tammy’s Recipes for Fudgy Black Bean Brownies (link). Tammy’s notes: “Sweet and chewy gluten-free brownies made with black beans (but you’d never know it from the taste). So simple and amazingly delicious!”

Estimated nutritional information: 1 brownie = 59 g (149 calories). Fiber 2.4 g, 17.7 g carbs (1.2 servings), and 3.5 g protein (0.5 serving)