A Formula for Bean and Grain Salads

Serves 4 as a main course and 6 to 8 as a side dish

If using a cooked vegetable, it’s OK to use just one. If using a raw vegetable, use a mix of 2 or even 3. You can substitute 1/3 cup of your favorite homemade or store-bought vinaigrette for the oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

2 cups canned beans, drained (white, black, pinto, chickpeas, kidney, black-eyed peas)
2 cups cooked grains (white or brown rice, barley, bite size pasta, couscous, quinoa)
3 cups bite-size cooked and/or raw vegetables (see note above)
1/2 cup extras (toasted nuts, dried fruit, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives)
1/4 medium red or white onion or 4 thin-sliced scallions
1/4 cup soft fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint)
Dressing: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, and 4 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice or 1/3 cup your favorite vinaigrette

Prepare beans and following package instructions, cook grains; place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, prepare cooked and/or raw vegetables; add to bowl. Prepare extras, slice onions, and chop herbs; add to bowl.
When ready to serve, drizzle salad with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; toss to coat. Add vinegar or lemon juice; toss to coat again. Adjust seasonings and serve. Or, simply add your favorite vinaigrette (see note above) and toss to coat.

Here are some of our favorite variations:

Sharon’s Black Bean and Rice Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Bean: 2 cups black beans
Cooked Grain: 2 cups cooked white rice
Cooked/Raw Vegetables: 1 1/2 cups each thawed frozen corn and halved cherry tomatoes
Extras: 1/2 cup crumbled feta or queso fresco cheese
Onion: 4 scallions, sliced thin
Herb: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 teaspoons lime juice

Maggy’s Quinoa, Chickpea and Broccoli Salad
Bean: 2 cups chickpeas
Cooked Grain: 2 cups cooked quinoa
Cooked/Raw Vegetables: 3 cups steamed broccoli
Extras: 1/2 cup toasted almonds
Onion: 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
Herb: 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Pam’s White Bean and Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Bean: 2 cups white beans
Cooked Grain: 2 cups cooked orzo
Cooked/Raw Vegetables: 1 1/2 cups each steamed or broiled asparagus and raw red pepper
Extra: 1/2 toasted pine nuts
Onion: 1/4 sweet white onion, sliced thin
Herb: 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
Dressing: 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette

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  1. Carrie says

    That is an incredibly helpful post! I’ve been looking for a good ratio for a salad like this for weeks. Thank you so much!

  2. sue schwarz says

    this looks fabulous. I just bought a giant size bag of quinoa at Costco and I know what to do with some of it now…Love this site. Thanks for sharing

  3. Jen says

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve made two versions (kinda mine and kinda yours) already…and they have solved my brown-bag lunch problem…and my not eating breakfast problem too. Love you…love your website!

  4. Katie says

    I have also been looking for a formula like this for weeks!! I’m so excited to give it a try! Thanks for the tips!

  5. K East says

    The black bean and white bean salads were fabulous! I want to try the quinoa chickpea salad but my husband won’t eat broccoli. Any substitution suggestions?
    These combos are Great! I’d be interested in any others anyone wants to share.

  6. says

    Thanks so much for this!
    I found you through a web search for multi-grain salads, which I love. I posted a grain and bean salad recipe which I tried this summer and now I’m looking forward to trying some of your suggestions.
    Have a great day!

  7. Katie says

    This formula recipe is going to feed my husband and me at least once a week for the entire summer. It’s awesome and opening me up to so many kinds of grains! (Spelt and millet are fantastic in it.)

    Thank you!!

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