Recipe: Quinoa With Black Beans and Tomato

Somewhere between a side dish and a salad, I pulled this dish together last night from the pantry and the garden. It turned out very well for a freehanded dish, so I thought I’d share it. I used standard canned black beans; other beans might work well as well.


1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chicken stock (or water if you’re a vegetarian)
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 can cooked black beans
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (approximately)
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the quinoa according to the package directions and allow to cool. I used chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor.

Put the oil into a nonstick pan. Sauté the shallot and garlic over medium heat until golden brown – watch carefully to avoid burning, especially if you chopped them very small.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and then put them into a bowl big enough to hold all ingredients.

Add the black beans, basil, parsley, shallots, garlic, and the quinoa.

Mix everything up in the blow and then salt & pepper to taste.

Can be served immediately or held in the fridge until dinner time.

Make Our Garden Grow

Growing up in New York, my main exposure to gardening was being told to weed the back driveway at Grandma’s place (and the above from Candide, but that got me hooked on Bernstein instead). As you might expect, the weeding didn’t do much to hook me. I did like Grandma’s rose bushes, but then one year they pulled them all out to plant tomatoes instead, and I pretty much lost interest in the whole thing.

Fast forward past years of apartment living in various rentals, and I’m finally in a place of my own with an actual patio. And finally I’m starting to understand why my grandparents (and now my parents) spent so many hours out in the garden.

It’s fun!

Best thing about having a patio instead of a backyard is that you get the fun parts of gardening — choosing and nurturing pretty and/or tasty plants — without the weeding and lawn care that I still find utterly uninteresting.

Since I’ve never done any of this before, this year is pretty much one big experiment. So far we’ve planted four different herbs, two kinds of impatients, three tomato plants, and some Spanish lavender. We don’t get full sun all day on the patio, so whether we actually get enough direct sunlight to keep them all thriving I don’t know yet. Everything seems to be growing and thriving so far – we even have 5 or 6 green tomatoes forming on the vine – but I’m not going to call this year a success unless we actually harvest some tomatoes and the rest of the plants stay alive.

Four scraggly pink rose bushes also came with the place. I’ve still got a lot to learn about caring for them, but they’re blooming like crazy right now, and I just LOVE being able to pick my own roses and put them into a vase at my table.

Roses in bloom

I guess it really is different when you own a place.