Recipe Flash: Quinoa Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

on the way to a picnic in the park

SPRING PICNIC MENU: Deviled Eggs; Fennel-Cabbage Slaw; Quinoa Salad with Basil Vinaigrette; Brown Sugar Shortbread

This dish falls into the what-do-I-make-from-my-pantry category, and it’s a familiar type of salad in the BGSK repertoire. It takes a healthful grain and some easily stored vegetables and legumes and dresses them with an herbed vinaigrette. The whole thing tastes fresh and wholesome, even though not much really has to be fresh in the produce-drawer, did-you-notice-it’s-spring sense. You might want to run out for some herbs, but in my case, even the basil was frozen (it’s sold in squares at Trader Joe’s). It’s a miracle of sorts, and though you’d never call such a dish fancy, it does make good fare for work lunches, dinners alone, potlucks with friends, and–our favorite this time of year–picnics.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Quinoa Salad with Basil Vinaigrette, Corn, and Black Beans
Serves 2


3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
about 1/4 cup rice or white wine vinegar
1 small fennel bulb, very finely diced
1/3 cup corn kernels, defrosted if frozen
1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed well
2 teaspoons basil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
Combine the quinoa and water in a small pot. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Turn it down, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the water is gone and the quinoa is cooked. Turn off the heat and leave the top on for another 10 minutes, then fluff the quinoa and set aside.
Meanwhile, put the onions in a small bowl. Cover with the boiling water and let sit 5-10 minutes. Drain the onions, then cover them with the 1/4 cup vinegar. Let them sit until you’re ready to use, at least 15 minutes.
To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, basil, and mustard in a large salad bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until the dressing has thickened slightly. Whisk in the honey, salt, and cayenne, then taste. Add a bit more oil if the vinegar taste is too pungent. Now drain the onions, squeeze out the vinegar, and add them to the dressing with the corn, fennel, and black beans. Now add the quinoa and toss well. Taste for salt, adding more as necessary. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, then serve.
Posted in: Recipe Flash
  • Sara

    I love all of your “toss together” grain recipes….if only both of my roommates like quinoa and couscous….

  • Penny

    This sounds like a great salad. We love portable salads and I think I will try this for a boat picnic. Enjoy your blog.

  • Frankie

    Where are the black beans in the ingredients. Cuz I was wondering if you used canned.

    • BGSK

      Oops! The beans came from a can, and I rinsed them well. For such a small amount, I didn’t think it was worth it to cook from dried. But if I had already cooked some, then I’d definitely have used them in this salad.

  • kitchen cleaner

    What a brilliant idea for a packed lunch! I will have to give this a try! I love the idea of soaking the onions in vinegar before adding them to the salad.

  • Christine B.

    Delicious! I just made the quinoa salad for a light summer dinner and it will be a perfect snack for me to take with me on a flight tomorrow! Thanks for the great recipe!

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