Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Black Beans and Corn

From Laura Di Lembo

2013 May/Jun

This Aztec-inspired salad capitalizes on the trusted trinity of corn, beans and squash.


  • 1 c. dried black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 c. red quinoa (available in specialty food stores)
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 t. chile powder
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 c. frozen or canned corn kernels
  • 1/3 c. chopped red onion
  • 2 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 T. agave syrup (available in whole foods stores)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • extra chile powder and cumin to taste


In a medium bowl, soak the dried black beans overnight in enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. The next day, drain the beans, put them into a medium pot, and cover them generously with water. Don’t salt the water. Add a bay leaf and cinnamon stick to the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer until they’re tender. Drain them and remove the bay leaf and cinnamon.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve and cook it in 4 c. of boiling salted water until it’s swollen and tender, about 15 minutes. Cooking times vary, so taste the quinoa for doneness. Drain it well and spread the cooked quinoa onto a clean dish towel to dry completely.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds and the stringy core. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2-inch disks, then cut the disks into 1/2-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, toss the squash cubes with the 2 T. of oil, orange juice, chile powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the cubes evenly in a single layer in a baking pan and roast until they’re golden brown and fork tender, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

If you’re using frozen corn, cook it in salted water until it’s crisp-tender. Drain the corn well. In a small bowl, make the dressing: whisk together the 1 T. of oil, juice and zest of the lime, agave syrup and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa, squash, corn, black beans, onion and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss the salad gently. Taste it for seasoning and add extra chile powder and cumin for kicked-up flavour, if you like.