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black bean and couscous salad

black bean and couscous salad

Ohnoes. A pantry meal — in June!

It may be spring — almost summer — but the garden’s getting a slow start around here. A very wet spring kept us from planting until late May. We’ve already burned past the asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries are due any day now, but normally at this time we’d have lettuce and radishes at the very least.

But it was not to be. The radishes are just about big enough to snack on, but there just isn’t a lot going on yet. I’m not in the mood for hot, heavy, stick-to-your ribs food now, though, so I turned to a main-course salad and dug out this black bean and couscous salad recipe.

Couscous is one of my favorite pastas/grains. I like whole-wheat couscous (obviously!) and it’s one of the whole-grain products that doesn’t seem any different from non-whole-grain variety. It isn’t even prepared differently; perhaps a touch more water or broth when making it, but it turns out fine without such watchfulness. Couscous also pairs amazingly with beans, and I’m partial to black beans. A lot of which goes to explain why I enjoy this salad so much.

You’ll notice in the picture that I used green pepper because that’s what was on hand, but it’s really yummy with sweet red pepper. Also, notice how white the corn is? That’s because it’s from the corn I froze last year, another good reason to have some now — I froze a lot of sweet corn!

The dressing is what makes it stand out, though. This is one of those malleable salad recipes where you can mix and match and swap ingredients to no ill effect, because the aromatic olive oil and lime juice mixture that’s holding it all together is what makes it sing.

So I thawed some frozen corn, got out some whole-wheat couscous and black beans, chopped up the pepper and green onion (the only fresh ingredients) and mixed up the dressing, and had a refreshing spring pantry dinner.

black bean and couscous salad

prep: 15 minutes
to table: 20 minutes
serves: 8

    1 cup whole wheat couscous
    1-1/3 cups vegetable broth
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or from concentrate
    2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    4 green onions, chopped, green tops only
    1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and chopped
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro or 1tablespoon dried
    1-1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the couscous and stir. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper. If using dried cilantro, add now as well. Stir in green onions, bell pepper, fresh cilantro (if using), corn, and black beans.

With a fork, fluff the couscous. Add couscous to the vegetable/dressing mixture and mix well. Serve immediately or chill.


  • Replace cilantro with parsley or use a combination
  • Add 1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeño for more heat
  • Use quinoa in place of couscous
Nutrition information per serving: 337 calories; 6.6g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 174mg sodium; 57g carbohydrate; 11g fiber; 3.2g sugars; 16g protein; 15% vitamin A; 43% vitamin C; 9% calcium; 22% iron
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