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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Summer Salad

Here we are in the middle of an Evansville summer with that sweaty humidity but with that climate for growing tomatoes. The best tomatoes I’ve found are from Bud’s Farm Market, primarily sold from a stand on 3301 S. Weinbach Ave. Use the heirloom tomatoes as the flavor component of this black bean, tomato, and quinoa salad — a versatile dish.

For the beans and quinoa, I prefer them dried as opposed to the pre-soaked, canned versions. The taste is more pure, less muddled, and more complex when mixed with the other salad elements. The dried beans and quinoa also offer an unparalleled, summery freshness that comes from raw ingredients, which are more noticeable when these items are purchased locally. Dried beans and quinoa are available in bulk from the River City Food Co-op (116 Washington Ave.).

Black Bean, Tomato, Quinoa Salad

Needed (Servings: 6-8):
•  4-quart saucepot
•  2-quart saucepot
•  Large mixing bowl for salad
•  Small mixing bowl for dressing

•  1 cup dried black beans (2 cups canned/rinsed)
•  1 cup dried quinoa
•  2 large heirloom tomatoes
•  1 small red onion or 3 shallots
•  1/2 cup olive oil
•  1/4 cup lime juice
•  1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
•  Salt and pepper

Soak the beans for at least five hours (I usually soak them overnight). Drain the beans, rinse, and add them to a pot with about one quart of cold water. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Reduce heat; simmer until al dente (approximately one hour; still firm but with just a bit of give). You don’t want the beans to be completely tender, or they will turn to mush.

While the beans are simmering, dice the tomatoes and onions/shallots and prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Set aside. Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepot, add quinoa, and boil until all water is absorbed (approximately 15 minutes).

Let the beans and the quinoa cool, and then gently fold in cilantro, diced tomatoes, and onions/shallots. Drizzle with dressing and serve over your favorite green. I prefer the peppery bite of large arugula leaves.

— Eli Haddix of Evansville has worked in the restaurant business for 12 years.

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