Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Whenever I make this vibrant and colorful salad, I feel happy and healthy.  I learned a great tip for making quinoa from Lorna Sass’s book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way.  She recommends making the quinoa as if cooking pasta, rather than cooking rice.  This means draining the extra cooking water rather than letting the quinoa sit to absorb all of the water.  Ever since I started making quinoa this way, there has been no more mushy quinoa and it’s done perfectly every time. This is my own version of a salad that I once saw at the prepared foods counter at Whole Foods.  It keeps well for several days in the fridge and is great for packing lunches or picnics!

Black Bean Quinoa Salad
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 cup red quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped

  • For the Dressing:
  • 1½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • juice of ½ lime
For the salad:
  1. In a medium pot, boil 6-8 cups of water over high heat. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. When the water is boiling, slowly add the quinoa and boil uncovered for 11-14 minutes. After 10 minutes, start checking the quinoa for doneness. The quinoa is done when the "dot" in the middle of the quinoa starts to disappear and when some of the white filaments start to come off the seeds. Drain the quinoa over a fine mesh strainer and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients. Add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper.
For the dressing:
  1. In a small bowl, use a wire whisk to blend ingredients.



cherry creme fraiche crackers

We recently hosted a small recital at our home for my son’s graduation from his Suzuki Cello Book 1.  It seems that I’ve hosted so many recitals for my students before and I’ve always had so much fun coming up with a refreshments menu to serve afterwards. This time was different.  All of a sudden it was my responsibility to make sure that he practiced and could play all 17 of his pieces for memory.  Refreshments were not even on the radar for me this time.  I found myself at Whole Foods the day before his recital with my mind drawing a blank as to what to serve after the recital.  As I wandered around the store, I found samples of these Rock  Creek Crisps.  They were served with  creme fraiche and jam and the whole thing tasted like one delicious cookie.  Yes, please.  A perfect hors d’oeuvre which required practically no effort!

This doesn’t even count as a real recipe, but it’s so good that I’m posting it just so that I keep it in my repertoire.  I used sour cherry jam, but I think almost any flavor jam would be scrumptious.

Cherry Creme Fraiche with Rock Creek Crisps
  • 1 5.3 oz package of Cranberry Multi- Seed Rock Creek Crisps
  • 8 oz. creme fraiche
  • 2-3 tablespoons sour cherry jam
  1. Dollop the sour cherry jam evenly over the creme fraiche and use a knife to swirl the jam into the creme fraiche. Serve with Rock Creek Crisps.


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Curried Red Lentils with Swiss Chard

Lentils seem to be my fallback for quick meatless meals these days.  These curried red lentils are one of those one pot dishes that make a great weeknight meal.  When cooked long enough, the red lentils turn creamy while the garbanzo beans help add texture to the stew.  The cucumber raita complements the curry perfectly and helps to brighten up the flavors.  I like to serve this stew over a bed of brown rice to make it extra hearty and filling.

Curried Red Lentils with Garbanzo Beans and Swiss Chard
Serves: 6-8
  • For the Red Lentil Stew:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus additional salt to taste
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, stalks removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • ⅔ cup dried garbanzo beans, cooked and drained, or 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

  • For the Cucumber Raita:
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • ½ cup grated cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • ⅛ teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
For the Red Lentil Stew:
  1. Using a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until they start to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and stir for another minute. Add the red lentils, give a quick stir, and then add the broth.
  2. Bring red lentil mixture to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the swiss chard and garbanzo beans and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until lentils reach desired consistency.
  4. Serve with brown rice and cucumber raita.
For the Cucmber Raita:
  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together gently with a wooden spoon or spatula.
adapted from Bon Appetit


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