Summertime Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

Its been hot here in Seattle. Way too hot to turn on the oven or even spend much time experimenting in the kitchen. It's the first time ever that we've closed all the shades in our apartment in hopes of keeping the place cool and I feel like we've been living in a secret cave, secluded from the outside world. We've been indulging in homemade ice cream and relying on fast, easy meals that don't require much effort to prepare. We've also been spending time at the beach and savoring a good amount of dark, rich iced coffee. But I guess that's summertime in general; a time for playing outdoors, eating simple, fresh food, and treating yourself to more frozen treats than probably good for you. I'm happy that summer is here, high temps and all - it's a welcome change from the typical Pacific Northwest weather we've become so accustomed to. 

This salad was thrown together throughout the day while I ran errands, went to yoga class, and got ready for work. I'm a good multi-tasker when it comes to making food; I like to prepare components of certain recipes in between getting other stuff done. I'm a checklist kind of girl. For this salad I cooked the quinoa and soaked the beans in the morning then had Noah boil the beans while I was at work. The rest of it came together quickly at the end of the day for a delicious and refreshing summertime meal.    

// Summertime Black Bean and Quinoa Salad // Serves 6-8
I use whole cumin and coriander seeds in this recipe because they add amazing flavor and a unique crunchiness to the salad. If you don't have them on hand or can't find them at the store you can substitute 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon ground coriander, adjusting the amounts to your liking. Spices have the most flavor and potency when they're fresh though, so buy only a little at a time and store them in a cool, dark place! 

1 cup dried black beans
3/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow or white onion, diced
2 tablespoons whole cumin (not ground)
2 teaspoons whole coriander (not ground)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 ears of corn, husks removed
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, sliced or diced
1 1/2 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, diced 
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lime
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 small or 1 large avocados
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
Salt, more than you think

1. Soak the black beans in a large saucepan for at least 4-6 hours, changing the water once or twice. Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and simmer over low-medium heat until tender, about 30-35 minutes . Drain and let cool. 

2. Rinse the quinoa under cold water (I use a fine mesh strainer) and place in a small saucepan with the water. Cover with a lid and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or until water has been completely absorbed. Remove from heat. 

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, whole cumin, and whole coriander. Cook until the onions turn translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the chili powder and paprika and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat. 

4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 6-7 minutes. Drain and rinse corn with cold water. Cut the kernels off with a sharp knife. 

5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, beans, onion/spice mixture, corn, bell pepper, cabbage, tomato, oil, lime juice, cilantro, avocado, pepper flakes, and salt. Mix well and season as necessary. Serve in fresh cabbage leaves