Quick, healthy mixed grains salad of quinoa and millet tossed with black beans, avocado slices and grapes, dressed with lime juice and rice vinegar.
It’s The Secret Recipe Club time again. For the uninitiated, we’re a group of around 130 food bloggers, separated into four smaller blogging groups. Every month, we’re each assigned a blog in our group to look through. We try a few recipes and chose one to post about. But all month long, we keep our assignment a secret until ‘reveal day’. It’s been a lot of fun – and I’ve found some great new blogs to follow and new recipes to add to my rotation.
This month, I was assigned Nora at Natural Noshing. This was a new blog for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Nora and her food over the past month. As you can guess by her blog name, she takes a healthy, mostly unprocessed approach to food. In 2009 she went gluten-free to resolve some digestive issues, so she’s got some great-looking GF recipes on her site too. For me, I was thrilled to find a ton of vegetarian dishes, many with vegan options. Some dishes that really called my name were Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad, Collard Greens with Sunflower Seeds and Raisins Salad, and Pizza Potatoes over Sautéed Spinach. But since I had a batch of cooked black beans tucked into the freezer, I ended up with this winner: Mixed Grain Salad with Avocado and Black Beans. It tasted fantastic – exactly my kind of salad – and it came together in about 20 minutes since I had the beans on hand.
A note about having beans on hand: anytime I cook up a fresh batch of beans in the slow cooker, I make extra to throw into ziplock baggies for those nights I’m standing in front of an open refrigerator at 6:00 at night frantically wondering what to make for dinner. Except for lentils, beans can take a long time to cook up, and I steer away from canned. So it’s great to have a stash all cooked up and tucked into the freezer or refrigerator, waiting to be added to a dish for a quick hit of protein and fiber.
This salad is all about satisfying layers of flavor, so check out the Cook’s Notes for tips.
- If you go with canned beans, be sure to look for ones with BPA-free linings and no added salt. Eden Foods and Trader Joe’s canned beans are both a safe way to go, but I’m sure there are others too.
- Use any mix of grains in this dish you want, but do a mix. It adds a nice depth of flavor and texture to the dish.
- Grapes? Yes grapes. The original recipe didn’t call for them, but I had some in the refrigerator, and decided at the last minute to add them. You might prefer grape tomatoes, but I urge you to try red grapes. At least once. They add a fruity burst of flavor, perfect with the beans, avocado, and grains.
- The original recipe calls for optional nutritional yeast. I say it’s not optional. This savory addition to the dish adds a layer of flavor that brings an extra punch to the dish.
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa (I used white)
- ½ cup uncooked millet grain
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup yellow onion, diced
- 1½ cups cooked black beans
- 2 garlic cloves, minced ( or 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ cup halved red grapes
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped + more for garnish
- 1 Tbsp lime juice or rice vinegar
- 1 avocado, pit removed and diced into chunks
- ¼ cup sunflower kernels
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and millet and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa and millet are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
- Note: for tips on cooking quinoa, go here.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the black beans, garlic, cumin, and grapes, cooking for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Transfer the grains to a large mixing bowl, and add onion-bean mixture and toss to combine. Stir in remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss with nutritional yeast.
- Garnish with additional cilantro.