from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

for the Dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp oil (e.g. flax, hemp, grapeseed)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
for the Salad:
1/4 c quinoa, washed and rinsed
1 19-oz can black beans, rinsed
2 green onions, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/4 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small avocado, cubed
1/4 c cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 c frozen corn niblets

In a small pot of water, cook the quinoa accordingly. While the quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl, stir together the black beans, onions, tomatoes, celery, green peppers, avocado, and cilantro. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oils, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in the corn. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let quinoa cool. Add quinoa and dressing to salad and toss together well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

I have a confession to make. This is not a new recipe. In fact, I’ve made this salad so many times that I don’t even read the recipe anymore. HOWEVER, I’ve made a spectacular modification to the salad, that I feel deserves to be shared. Mango. I’ve omitted the corn and put fresh mango in its place, and does it taste gooood. Of course, since it’s not frozen, no need to add it to the hot quinoa. Just toss it in with the rest of the salad ingredients. I love to take this salad to family dinners, since it’s soy- and gluten-free, which my sister requires.
Of course, my version of this salad never contains cilantro. Nobody seems to miss it. There’s a lot going on here, both in the texture and flavor realms. Green pepper adds a nice crunch, quinoa a little pop, and the chili powder a nice subtle zing that’s mellowed by avocado. I’ve used grapeseed oil in the past, with the corn version, and it made it just a little lighter and fruitier. For my mango substitution I used only olive oil and it was just as tasty.
Also, it’s hard to find a 19-ounce can of beans (I think it’s a Canadian thing). I usually use 2 15-ounce cans; and I double the recipe and it still seems beany enough. To be honest my salad ingredients are never measured and are way off… whole green pepper, 1/2 cup quinoa (which, by the way, cooks ever so delightfully in your rice cooker), 2 large avocados… obviously this is a flexible salad. I’m wondering what kind of variation you might try?