black bean quinoa salad with tomatillo salsa

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A few weeks ago, I was skiing, and I was having fun, but I felt stale. I felt like I was doing the same things I always do when I ski, back and forth across the slope, not too fast, just nice and comfortable. After a morning of this, I was getting impatient with myself – why are you so timid, I asked myself? Go faster, mix it up, challenge yourself, get out of that comfort zone. So I did, and I fell, and I twisted my knees, had to sit in the lodge and read a book the next day while my friends skied, and I couldn’t run or progress in my weightlifting routine for three weeks (and counting*).

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My weeknight dinner routine has felt stale lately too. So many grain salads, so many beans. It seems like I always use quinoa the same way, in some sort of salad. And how many different ways can I possibly combine black beans, chiles, and avocadoes?

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On the other hand, maybe I’m in this rut because it works – it’s healthy, it’s fast, and it’s good. Sometimes it’s better to stick with what works. Quinoa salads work. Black beans and cilantro works. And avocado works on everything. This was one of the best meals I’ve made lately. Mixing it up is overrated.

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*Eventually, I decided that if resting wasn’t helping my knees heal, I might as well run. (Impeccable logic, right?) A couple runs in, my knees feel better than they have in weeks. Crossing my fingers to start weightlifting again this weekend!

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One year ago: Chocolate Frosting (comparison of 3 recipes)
Two years ago: Dorie Greenspan’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three years ago: Devil’s Food White Out Cake
Four years ago: Cream Cheese Brownies

Printer Friendly Recipe
Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Tomatillo Salsa (adapted slightly from Cate’s World Kitchen)

Serves 3-4

I substituted about 4 ounces of roasted peeled Hatch green chiles for one of the jalapenos.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 tomatillos, papery skins removed
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
¾ cup cilantro, divided
juice of 1 lime
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced

1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup water, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the quinoa to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the broiler. Broil the tomatillos and garlic until the tomatillos are browned, 5-8 minutes. Peel the garlic; transfer it to a blender with the tomatillos, ½ teaspoon salt, jalapenos, and ½ cup cilantro. Puree.

3. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Stir in the lime juice. Once the quinoa cools to slightly warmer than room temperature, add the beans, tomatoes, avocado, remaining ¼ cup cilantro, and salsa. Serve.

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  1. Tomatillo salsa is so flavorful and I bet it pairs well with this lovely salad.

  2. Mixing it up def can be over-rated. Sometimes it’s best to just go with what you know.

  3. I am terrible about food ruts, I eat almost the same thing for breakfast every morning, but I like it! Love the tomatillo salsa addition to the salad.

  4. Bridget, this looks so flavorful and wholesome! Wonderful meal idea. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  5. I honestly can’t see myself ever getting tired of meals like this!

  6. YUM love this, perfect for a light dinner!

  7. Black Beans and quinoa ARE the perfect combination – I love them together so much! Usually I add grapefruit or mango as well… but maybe I should embrace the tomatillo more!

    I also love the name of your blog – is it named after that line in “The Apartment”?

  8. I LOVE Quinoa and I LOVE black beans. This is already a match made in heaven, then you add tomatillo into the mix?? Mmmm.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I made this for dinner last night – AMAZING. Even my picky meat and potatoes hubby liked this one! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  10. This looks great! I hope you are healed and back exercising again!

  11. Megan says:

    I made this today and by far it is my favorite way to have quinoa right now! Delicious!

  12. Made this today – it was really easy and delicious! I added some fresh sweetcorn that I had frozen last summer and it added some nice color and texture, would definitely recommend!