Monday, April 11, 2011

Cranberry Bean and Black Quinoa Salad


I'm doing it.  I really am.  I am getting more and more confidant with teaching myself to cook.  I feel like I can attempt many more types of dishes in the kitchen than I ever thought possible.  I'm learning about what I enjoy cooking and what "stresses" me to cook.

I practically skip out the door on Saturdays to get to my Williams-Sonoma  class.  Now I recognize familiar faces and just adore the chef, Jill's witty style.  Last weekend the topic was "Legumes".

I will not buy more cooking gadgets from the store this week.

I will not buy more cooking gadgets from the store this week.

I am sure there  are no more incredible DEVICES  from the Williams-Sonoma store that I need in my kitchen...this week.  But, I never know what I might cook and then need... NEXT week...


Beans?  A new line of carefully selected bean growers has been added to the W&S line up of packaged food items.  This wouldn't be a gadget weekend.  Oh, no!  Bringing home more gadgets  beans would be an intelligent and healthy option to ensure the well-being of my beloved family.

Yep.  That's how my mind works.  Now lets look at those beans.

We made all kinds of healthy deliciousness with beans, or, legumes.  One bean salad in particular was tasty.  It was a Cranberry Bean and Toasted Black Quinoa Salad.  Williams-Sonoma has started a new "legumes" line in their store.

I definitely wanted to cook with more beans.  I have no idea why I've been intimidated by buying beans that you soak.  Really, all you do it put the desired amount in a bowl of water overnight and rinse them out the next day.  Why did this always sound so trying?  I also didn't know that beans need to be kept in the refrigerator.

The only beans that I ate growing up were black-eyed peas.  This is a southern traditional bean eaten on New Year's Day.  I honestly cannot remember eating them on any other day of the year.  Families eat a serving of black-eyed peas with cole slaw.  If I remember correctly, the black-eyed peas were eaten for good luck and the cole slaw for wealth.  I remember my brothers cringing and grimacing while eating their portion but since, even as a child, I pretty much tried anything, I did happily eat mine.  If we ate these good luck charmed foods, then we could flip our plates over and there would be some money underneath.  How is that for instant luck and wealth in one sitting!!

Since beans aren't loaded with flavor, these wonderful ingredients went into the bean salad:  garlic, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and feta cheese.

The recipe calls for toasting the black quinoa on the stove top for a few minutes.  This was fun.  They crackle and smell delicious.  This salad would be a great option to take to a summer picnic or barbeque. I served it with my bbq'd soft tacos.

For me, this beans salad has all of the rustic, deep, and rich colors that I like to see in food.  The woody beans, the deep scarlet toasted quinoa, the strong herbal smell with the tart feta  appeal to all of my food senses.  This recipe made so much of this salad that we had leftovers for days afterwards.  The flavors get better and better.  Enjoy!

Toasted Quinoa Salad with Cranberry Beans

*(all beans are from the Zursun Heirloom Collection at Williams -Sonoma)
(adapted from the Williams-Sonoma cooking class)


1 1/2 cups (210g) dried cranberry beans*), rinsed and soaked overnight
1 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup (180g) black quinoa*, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 cucumber, about 10oz. (315g)
1/2 cup (20G) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup (75g) crumbled feta cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Drain the beans and rinse with cold water.  Place in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 3 inches (7.5cm).  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, 35 to 45 minutes.  (Snippet's Note:  don't let them cook too long or they are mushy.  The difference is pretty noticeable) Drain the beans and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the  1 Tbs. olive oil.  Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.  Add the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.  Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and the 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil.  Pour over the quinoa and stir until incorporated.  Stir in the cranberry beans, cucumber, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper. (Snippet's Note:  Try to not eat several large spoonfuls before its served at the table!)  Serves 4 to 6


  1. Learning how to cook is hard at the very beginning but afterwards people are usually more and more fascinated by this magic:)
    Great pictures and good writting!

  2. Great photos but where's the recipe?

  3. Sounds yummy and healthy at the same time.

  4. Oh No!! I forgot to post the recipe. Let me get it up on the site! Thank you Anonymous for pointing that out.

  5. This looks prefect, i love bean salads and quinoa is amazing. I have not seen black quinoa though.

  6. Wow! Those beans look gorgeous in that first picture! Love the packaging, too.

  7. Gorgeous pictures! And the recipe looks amazing too!

  8. thsi sounds absolutely delicious! i love quinoa, and can't wait to try this recipe!

  9. Sounds delicious, I love quinoa!

  10. I absolutely adore quinoa, I feel healthier just looking at the pictures!

  11. There is nothing else to give you more pleasure than when you succeed in making something good in the kitchen. For me cooking has been and still is sometimes even theraputic. It keeps my mind occupied and gives me great pleasure. i love the ingredients you used in this salad!

  12. This looks so cozy and comforting! This is hardly the stuff of a "novice" cook my friend. So yummy!

  13. Oh, how I wish I could take a cooking class, there are none in my area. Those cranberry beans are really quite beautiful aren't they. Your dish looks great!


  14. This looks very tasty! I love cranberry beans and quinoa too!!!
    Your recipes are amazing! I'm going to follow you!

  15. What a gorgeous dish! Bookmarked to try!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls


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