Quinoa, an indigenous Incan super-grain loaded with protein, might seem like a sad cousin to couscous. It can be bitter, but different brands of quinoa are cleaned in different ways, so don't give up on it. If your brand of quinoa is bitter, soak it for 4 to 6 hours, which also will improve the texture and make the grain more digestible.
Christmas lima beans are also known as chestnut lima beans because they have a distinct chestnut flavor. Big and beautifully marked, they are often paired with sauteed mushrooms.
If you like avocado, feel free to add more; the dressing doubles easily, if you need more.
To order the beans online, go to www.ranchogordo.com.
Servings: 4 - 6
- For the salad
- 5 small beets
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup quinoa (see headnote)
- 3 cups cooked, well-drained Christmas lima beans (see related TIPS on soaking and cooking)
- 1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
- 1 avocado
- For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub the beets and dry them, then place in a medium bowl and drizzle with the oil. Wrap the beets in 2 aluminum foil packages, sorting the beets by similar sizes. Roast for about 45 minutes, until they are tender.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, then cut them into 1/4-inch-thick wedges and place in a large salad bowl.
Rinse the quinoa under cool running water. Bring a medium saucepan of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rinsed quinoa, stirring to mix in, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the quinoa is fluffy but still slightly crunchy. Drain and rinse quickly under cool running water, then drain well and add to the beets in the bowl, along with the cooked beans, preferably warmed a bit, and the sliced onion.
Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit, leaving each half in the skin. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, slicing through the flesh but not the skin. Then cut the slices crosswise into thirds in the same fashion. Use a spoon to scoop the avocado from the skin and add to the bowl, tossing gently to combine.
For the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil in a thin, steady stream until an emulsified dressing forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Serve at room temperature within 2 hours.
Adapted from "Heirloom Beans," by Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington (Chronicle, 2008).
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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