Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad

Quinoa Black Bean SaladIt’s not easy to love a minimum wage job at a mall. But, I loved my part-time job at Pasta & Co. In the 80’s, fresh pasta was a retail novelty. While Pasta & Co was one of Seattle’s first retailers to offer fresh pasta, it was their specialty sauces and prepared foods which captured my imagination. The owner, Marcella Rosene put a creative twist on everything in that store, from selecting unique and defining recipe ingredients, such as black sesame oil to her beautifully hand scripted product labels. In her stores, something as simple as croutons were memorable. Pasta & Co. The Cookbook, the first cookbook I ever bought myself, is still with me today, dog-eared and splattered. The book is now out of print. But, I noticed a few new copies available on Amazon for $215!

This is a gluten-free version of the Pasta & Co Couscous with Black Beans recipe.  Quinoa replaces the couscous, but it is generally the same recipe. The quinoa and bean combination make this side dish rich in protein and as hearty as it is colorful. Its’ festive confetti-like appearance make it a buffet favorite which keeps well for days. That is, if there are any leftovers.


Adapted from the Pasta & Co Couscous with Black Beans recipe
Yield: 12 cups salad

Quinoa Bean Salad IngredientsADVANCE PREPARATION:

  • Pre-soak beans overnight in a sauce pan
    • Rinse dry beans, removing any pebbles, cracked or shriveled beans.
    • Place the beans in a saucepan large enough to hold them after they have cooked. They will expand to 2-3 times their dried volume.
    • Add warm water to cover.
    • Let soak for at least 8 hours or several days. Or, you can quick-soak the beans, which is much faster, but does not help improve digestion.
  • Beans can be cooked and marinated two days in advance


Bean Ingredients and Directions

  • 1 1/4 cup dried black beans, picked over for stones and rinsed (3 cups cooked)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 strip kombu (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  1. Drain the water from the pre-soaking pan.
  2. Rinse the beans and refill the pot with the same amount of water or more.
  3. Add to the water the garlic cloves, bay leaf, and kombu strip, if using.
  4. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar.
  5. Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat and keep the water at a low boil for their entire cooking time. If the water level drops below the beans, add more liquid.
  6. After 45 minutes of cooking, add the sea salt.
  7. When the beans have a creamy texture and a few skins split, the beans are done cooking. This will take at least 1 hour for most beans. Check for doneness after 45 minutes.
  8. When the beans are done cooking, remove the kombu strip from the pot.
  9. Drain the beans well and rinse in cold water.
  10. When well-drained, toss the beans with the bean dressing.

Bean Dressing Ingredients and Directions

  • 1 1/2 ounce sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced or put through press
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

While the beans cook, mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl that is large enough to hold the cooked beans. Toss the drained beans with the dressing.


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa (8 cups cooked quinoa)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled minced fine or put through a press
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Combine uncooked quinoa with 5 cups water or broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until each grain is translucent and the white germ is visible. Let cool for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork to remove lumps. Let cool completely.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, prepare dressing by mixing together all dressing ingredients (olive oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and lemon juice) in a bowl large enough to hold both the quinoa and bean mixtures.
  3. Fold the cooled quinoa into the dressing.

Diced Peppers


  • 1/2 red pepper cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 yellow pepper cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 orange pepper cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced diagonally, 1/8 inch thick

Toss the marinated bean mixture with quinoa mixture and vegetables, reserving some of each of the vegetables for the top of the salad. Place in a serving bowl, top with remaining vegetables, and serve at room temperature.

Pasta & Co. Cookbook

PLEASE resist the urge to substitute the sherry wine vinegar with anything else. A good quality sherry wine vinegar provides the salad’s defining flavor and character, making it unique and anything but ‘just another buffet salad’. I keep some in my pantry just for this recipe.

Who else loves the fabulous Pasta & Co recipes?


Black Bean Nutrition
ow to Cook Dried Beans for Improved Digestion
How to Make Fluffy Quinoa

Originally posted 8.26.14.


4 thoughts on “Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad

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