July 21st, 2010

Yin Yang Two Grain Salads


Each month, when Gigi and I host the Third Thursday Community Pot Luck Dinner, we put our heads together a few days beforehand to decide what we want to make. Seasonality, of course, takes the front burner. What we find flourishing in our respective gardens figures prominently in the mix. And, then, it’s where ever else the kitchen muse directs us…

“Look at ALL these turtle beans,” Gigi said, bringing out bowls mounded with shiny purple-black pebbles. She placed them on her kitchen counter.
“I don’t know how farmers can make any money. I spent hours shelling them. I haven’t even calculated the time in planting, weeding, and harvesting.”

I nodded. “They are impressive,” I said. Who knew that you could grow black beans in Tennessee? “We will definitely showcase them in some way.”


“And, don’t forget, I have lots of peppers and garlic!” Gigi paused. “The cilantro’s gone, but its seeds are ready too.”

“Toasted coriander, ” I said.

I reminded her of the large bag—a lifetime supply, she believed–of quinoa stashed in her pantry. A Southwest themed salad, hearty, healthy, and protein-rich, seemed to be in the works…

But, what else would we make?


My little front yard farmette is but a speck, compared to Gigi’s Wedgewood Urban Gardens, however, my two lemon basil plants had grown into fragrant bushes. It would be nice to use the lot in a dish for the potluck.

I went home and stared into my own pantry—seeking a spark, a nudge, any ingredient to highlight the herb. I scanned over boxes of capellini, penne, fusilli, but pasta didn’t excite me. Brown rice, jasmine rice, arborio, no, they all seemed wrong.

Then I found a bag of bulgur wheat. Hmmmm. While parsley and mint are key to Tabouleh, it is a distinctly lemony salad. Why wouldn’t lemon basil work in place of parsley and mint?


Yes, friends, we have a winner!

In no time, I made a lemon basil pesto, which worked its lemon-scented magic in the cracked wheat. Not unlike tabouleh, but less green tasting, this salad was refreshing and summery, and turned out to be a complementary partner to the black bean-quinoa.

Side by side on the table, our potluck offerings were rather yin and yang, light and dark, crisp and soft, cool and spicy, citrus and chocolate….


2 cups Cracked Bulgur Wheat
2 Lemons, for juice and zest
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 bunch Lemon Basil leaves (about 1 1/2-2 cups)
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 ripe Tomatoes, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced

Soak cracked wheat in fresh water for at least 15 minutes and rinse well. Set aside in a bowl.
Using the food processor with a swivel blade, make a pesto using garlic, lemon basil leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir lemon basil pesto into the cracked wheat. Stir in diced tomatoes and onion. Set into the fridge and allow the flavors to meld into the cracked wheat.


2 cups Black Beans, rinsed and picked over
2 T. Olive OIl
1 Onion, diced
1 Poblano Pepper, diced (or 2-3 Jalapenos)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tomato, chopped
1 t. Cumin
1 t. toasted Coriander Seed
1 cup Quinoa, rinsed three times, and drained
1 1/2 cups Water
1 Lime, for juice and zest
Red Pepper Flakes

For the Black Beans: (if fresh, there is no need to soak. If dried, soak the beans for at least 3 hours. Drain and rinse.)

In a 2 qt. saucepan, saute chopped onions and peppers in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add garlic and diced tomatoes. Season with cumin and coriander. Saute for 5 minutes. Add black beans and stir until beans are well coated. Add water to cover the beans, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that accumulates on the top and stir. Simmer until beans are soft but still intact. Can be prepared the day before and refrigerated.

For the Quinoa:
Heat a skillet and add the well-rinsed quinoa. Stir under medium heat to toast the grain—about 5 minutes. Add water and stir. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, covered, under low heat for 30 minutes.

To Assemble:
Stir the black beans into the quinoa mixture. Add lime zest and juice from one lime. Stir well. Sample for salt and heat, and adjust to taste.

Posted in Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Salads, Vegan

18 Responses to “Yin Yang Two Grain Salads”
  1. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Excellent choices. I like the way you used tabouleh as inspiration. I’ve never been a big fan of parsley. Basil is probably my favorite herb. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried lemon basil, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I’d like it. I’m sure everyone loved your salads. Hope you had fun.

  2. Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum Says:

    I’m loving your blog right now! And I love grain salads (exhibit A – my most recent post – although I don’t know if couscous counts as a grain?)

  3. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Gosh, these two salads look so nutritious and full of flavor. I adore the lemon accent in lemon basil, you’re lucky to have a huge bush. I don’t think I would know what a turtle bean pod looks like. I agree that it would take a very long time to shuck all of those beans.

  4. Michele Napoli Says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never cooked cracked wheat. The tabouleh looks delicious, nutritious, and brimming with flavor. I love all manner of grains and am sure to try your tabouleh–perfect for these hot summer days.

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise–the third-thursday community potlucks are always fun.

    Hi Lindsay==yes, couscous does count! and your version is for curried couscous is not unlike mine. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

    Christine–I should take more pictures of things growing in Wedgewood Urban Gardens and post for all to see.

    Michele-The cracked wheat is so simple to work with—I’m sure you will enjoy it!

  6. Barbara Says:

    I’m enjoying all the quinoa salads I’ve seen lately..and yours looks delish.
    I’ve never cooked anything with cracked wheat, nor have I ever had turtle beans. Couscous I love and I used to have lemon basil in my garden…so delicious with everything.
    Really fun post with healthy salads!

  7. Fluffy Says:

    not sure which I would like better–the yin or the yang salad!
    both look quite good, and healthy too.

  8. Mary Says:

    I’m really fond of grain salads so your post has a struck a responsive chord in me. They both look outstanding and are a must try. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  9. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…every time you speak of your garden friends and all the abundance of goodies…I’m so envious. What a champ for de-shelling all those beans…no manicure left after that one I’m sure ;o)

    I’ll have to take a small trip back to the market this week and get myself some lemon basil…sounds too flavourful.

    Great recipes for amazingly nutritional dishes.

    Ciao for now and have a glorious day,

  10. rachel Says:

    I like the way you put this together, this is the way to cook with thought and effort (because good food takes thought and effort) using what you have in the pantry and the garden. Great stuff. I love the sound of the tabouleh with lemon basil.

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Rach–your lovely tabouleh post a couple of weeks ago helped to spark the inspiration!

  12. Tracy Says:

    Everything you make, I want to eat. Have I said this before? :)

  13. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Who knew indeed! Black Beans in Tennessee…?
    I am so sorry I did not get to taste these dishes…food work has me a bit out of circuit, not to mention the heat, but love the photos and will try one of these cool looking recipes soon. Bon Ap!

  14. Sook Says:

    Wow… Love all your fresh ingredients! Lovely pictures!

  15. Jenny Giovannucci Says:

    Love the vegan recipes!

  16. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    These two salads sound so yummy! And super hearty. These are perfect for take-to-work lunch.

  17. my little expat kitchen Says:

    These look delicious Nancy! I *love* bulgur, so the first salad is perfect for me. I’ve never had quinoa, I think I must try it at some point.

  18. nancy Says:

    Double yum! Two summery, delicious-looking, and healthy grain salads! Just what I’m in the mood to cook these days :)

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