It can be daunting to ponder vegan options for a July 4th get together. Should one go with something traditional and suitable for grilling, like veggie burgers, tempeh skewers, or seitan? Perhaps it’s better to create a crowd-pleasing side dish, like potato salad or pasta salad. Then again, maybe something sweet, like a batch of cornbread or a vegan crisp or cobbler, is best.
This year, keeping with my recent theme of time-saving food, I decided to share a summery July 4th (or anytime) salad that’s substantial enough to be meal-worthy, but also light enough to serve as a side. This protein-packed black and kidney bean quinoa salad was inspired by the idea of a traditional three bean salad, but it became pretty untraditional along the way.
My recollection of three bean salads is that most mix green beans with two types of legumes. They’re plenty nutritious, but I’ve always felt that they could use a little extra substance. Since I’ve been adding quinoa to most of my salads lately (Caesar salad, BLT salad, etc.), I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to keep the theme going and add some quinoa to a three bean salad, too. A bit of fresh arugula adds bright, peppery flavor, as well as healthful phytonutrients.
This salad features black and kidney beans, along with shelled edamame. I’ve never paired these three ingredients before—usually when I make a salad, it’s one type of legume or another—but I really like the way that the size and textures of the different beans work together. And since there are also steamed green beans in here, the salad is really a four bean salad.
To make all of the flavors come alive, I added a roasted garlic vinaigrette that I feel certain I’ll be making again and again this summer. I tend to eat a lot of roasted garlic during these months because I’m often roasting one or another pan of tomatoes or peppers, and it’s easy to wrap a head of garlic and add it to the tray. I love how roasted garlic is super flavorful without being overly sharp or spicy. If you have a favorite vinaigrette that you use for summer salads, you can definitely substitute it, and save yourself the roasting step.
Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad
For the salad:
- 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa or 2 ½ cups pre-cooked quinoa
- 1 1/3 cups shelled edamame fresh or frozen and thawed
- 2 cups green beans cut into 1 inch pieces and steamed or blanched till crisp tender
- 1 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (about 4 roasted bell peppers--you can roast them yourself, or purchase them in the jar) or 1 ½ cups chopped, fresh red pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 cup beans if you're preparing from scratch
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 cup beans if you're preparing from scratch
- 3-4 loosely packed cups baby arugula
- Optional: ¼ cup loosely packed snipped chives or chopped green onion tops
For the Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
- 1 whole head garlic top sliced off crosswise
- 5 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for roasting the garlic
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Drizzle a little olive oil over the head of the garlic and rub it over the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil, place it on a baking sheet, and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and fragrant.
- While the garlic roasts, rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Transfer the quinoa and 1 ½ cups water to a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- When the garlic is ready, squeeze all of the cloves out of the garlic head into a blender or a food processor. Add all remaining dressing ingredients. Blend the dressing till smooth.
- To prepare the salad, pile the edamame, green beans, bell pepper, kidney beans, black beans, and arugula into an extra large mixing bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, the chives or green onions if using, and then the vinaigrette. Toss the salad well to combine, then adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
As you can see, I recommend roasted red peppers for the recipe, but it’s fine to use raw ones instead. And of course, you should feel free to add your own veggies of choice; grated carrots, fresh corn, and roasted zucchini would all make a great addition to the salad.
This dish is part of my year long celebration of the International Year of Pulses! In honor of the UN’s recognition of pulses as a sustainable, economical, and nutritious protein source, I’m inviting everyone to take the Pulse Pledge with me. It’s a commitment to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks (or as long as you like). For plant-based eaters, this amount is no big deal, but if you’re hoping to incorporate more pulse recipes into your diet, the pledge is one stress-free way to do it.
In addition to being crowd-pleasing, this salad lives up to its name: once serving packs about 17 grams of pulse-powered protein. Which means that it’s both a tasty and a nutritious contribution to any holiday weekend gatherings you might be joining.
I hope you’ll enjoy it. And I look forward to seeing you back here this weekend, as always, for my weekly roundup of recipes and reads.
This post was created in partnership with the USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more pulse recipes with you this year! To learn more about the Pulse Pledge, visit www.pulsepledge.com.