There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must feed a crowd. Whether it’s for a family barbeque, an office party, a kids’ birthday, the truth is we’ve all been there and we’ve all been stumped and totally intimidated.
I’ve worked in a few restaurants now that required big-batch cooking, so I’ve gotten used to dealing with impossibly large quantities of food. At first it seemed like a daunting task to make soup in a pot I could comfortably sit inside, but after a while I realized that it’s not that difficult, just a matter of practice (and a good recipe never hurts). The biggest challenge by far is getting enough flavour into the food, and for that I like to rely on herbs. Fresh herbs, no matter how much you add to a dish, are rarely offensive – they really just make most things more delicious, so fear not. They are also relatively inexpensive, especially at this time of year when they are in season.
This weekend I was invited to attend the Kinfolk dinner in Toronto. This was an event to bring together just a few of the talented and inspiring people that make this work-of-art magazine possible. It was such a pleasure to put faces to familiar names and actually meet all these internet pals in person. The day was spent outside the city at a gorgeous cottage on Georgian Bay, soaking up the sun, swimming, lounging, cooking together, and of course eating amazing food.
I was asked to contribute a tasty side that would feed at least twenty people. No probs! Herbs to the rescue.
Because of the insanely oppressive heat wave that has washed over Ontario this summer, I decided that a cool and refreshing salad was in order. And not knowing exactly what types of dietary needs the guests had, I thought that taking the gluten-free, nut-free, vegan route would be the most considerate.
I created a Minty Black Bean Salad full of fresh herbs and crispy veggies to energize and revitalize. The herbs in this salad are not garnish, but a major ingredient in the dish and should be added with abandon.
If you don’t have enough black beans, combine them with another legume, like navy or lima beans. The quinoa can be substituted for brown rice, millet, or even spelt or wheat berries. Pick any summer veg you’ve got hanging around too – green peas would be amazing and so would summer squash. The point here is to be flexible and plentiful! Feeding a crowd can be easy and tons of fun if you can harness the bold, flavour seeker inside yourself, and have the confidence to toss a salad in a mammoth roasting pan with your bare hands, ‘cause that’s how it’s done.
Minty Black Bean Salad for a Crowd
9 cups (1.3kg) dried black beans, soaked overnight (or 8 hours)
1 ½ cups (275g) quinoa, soaked overnight (or 8 hours)
2 large fennel bulbs
1 head radicchio
1 bunch radishes
2 bunches green onions
3 bunches mint
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
a few handfuls sprouts (I used sunflower)
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 3 limes
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. fine grain sea salt
½ cup cold-pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or liquid honey)
a couple pinches cayenne pepper
1. Place the black beans and quinoa is separate bowls and cover with plenty of water. Let soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
2. Drain and rinse both beans and quinoa well. Place beans in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer with the lid on for about 40 minutes. Add three tablespoons of salt and continue to cook until soft (but not mushy!) – another 10 minutes or so. Drain and rinse well. Let cool.
3. Place quinoa in a pot, add 2 ½ cups water and a teaspoons of salt. With the lid on, bring to the boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, 15 minutes or so. Set aside with the lid off to let cool.
4. Make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine.
5. Prepare the vegetables. Begin by slicing the fennel bulb into very thin strips (a mandoline may help). Place fennel in a large serving vessel, pour a little of the dressing over, and toss to marinate (this also prevents browning). Add thinly sliced radish and green onions, toss to coat. Next add the cooled black beans and quinoa and pour the remaining dressing on top. Fold to combine. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to marinate.
6. Chop the herbs and radicchio, and add to the salad. Fold to incorporate. Season to taste. Sprinkle sprouts on top if desired, and serve to a hungry crowd.
Thanks to everyone who made this very special event possible. I had a total blast basking in the glory of summer surrounded by new friends around a table of abundance. We are so lucky. And now, so very full.
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For those of you who are in the Toronto area and want to reserve a space in the upcoming cooking classes, registration is now open! To learn more about the classes, please send an email to: email@example.com
Hope to see you there!
And remember that the My New Roots Potluck Picnic in the Park this Friday. See details here.
38 thoughts on “Minty Black Bean Salad for a Crowd”
How far in advance can this salad be made? I’m thinking of serving this one along with the Purple Power Salad at an event, but I’d love to be able to prepare them the day before. All of this food is so amazing; there are at least half a dozen of your recipes I make all the time. Thank you so much!
I’ve never heard of soaking the quinoa before cooking. What does it do and what are the benefits? Thank you!
amazing. Sarah, are you planning a workshop in Germany?
This looks so delicious and energizing!! Thanks for sharing the recipe. And your photos are gorgeous. AND I want that white bowl with the mushrooms on it- so cute!!
Wow!! I looked your dish it was very superb and i will surely try to cook this dish,Because it looks superb and very healthy dish.Thanks for giving this wonderful dish.
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I regret not attending, I hope you host another class in Toronto or the area again!
this looks absolutely delicious!
Love beans! We eat them a lot in the winter here in Utah. I just got some amazing dry beans at my farmers market, I can’t wait to try this dish with them. Thanks
Thanks, Sarah! 🙂 I had a feeling. I love your style – fresh and pretty but with a twist.
I love this salad and how you take such a new take on standby ingredients like black beans and quinoa. I would have never thought to pair them with these flavors!
Herbs and black beans, they make me always smiling.
Happy cooking to you!
so fun! I would love love to be a part of a kinfolk dinner. Such a gorgeous publication. Your salad looks like the perfect fit.
nice blog xx :))
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Sounds absolutely delicious! Cannot wait to try this some day soon. Thank you for your inspirational cooking.
looking at the fabulous photos from that event… i’m curious what all was wrapped up in the lake fish baked in parchment paper?? i see zucchini and olives (?) or is there some dried fruit in there?? what a lovely dinner party!!
Gorgeous Sarah!!! As always 😉
x x x
The dinner table photo is just beautiful. What a fabulous evening filled with great company and food. My kind of night!
Thanks for all the lovely comments, friends!
Stephanie – yes, the skirt is 70’s vintage. You nailed it 😉
Love to all,
Ohhhh my gosh, I’m so jealous!
This dinner loves lovely, I really enjoy Kinfolk! And the salad seems like the perfect addition to a party – bright, fresh, and filling.
That looks so delicious, Sarah. I make a very similar one all the time, adapted from one on 101cookbooks (giant black bean salad with arugula). Mmmm…I have to ask you – where did you get that lovely skirt (looks vaguely 1970s vintage!).
What a beautiful setting for a dinner! And a gorgeous salad!
The heat wave is being felt across the country; and I, too, have resorted to cooling summer salads, harnessing summer bounty. This IS the time for freshness, so why cook, I say!
Lovely salad, I can’t wait to try it!
looks delicious, going to have to try this! also, love all the bare feet in the last photo, a sure sign of summer!
I frequently have the opposite problem–I used to live with six roommates, so I got super used to making huge vats of everything, and had a hard time scaling it back to just feed one or two afterward. 🙂 This salad looks wonderful–I love the combination of black beans with mint!
What a beautiful looking salad. I’m loving mint on everything right now! Can’t get enough. It tastes like summer right now. Beautiful table, beautiful people, beautiful food.
Looks like a wonderful evening, and I think bean salad is great for feeding a crowd!
Oh yeah, that IS how it´s done! You loo both stunning and thriving, love!
I wish I could have a mouthful of this amazingly looking creation and a huge hug!
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Great contribution! Kinfolk is such a lovely magazine. I can’t imagine cooking for that many people. That’s a lot of salad!
Woah! This looks incredible – I’ll definitely try and scale it down, but I might just have a party so that I do have to make the entire amount. Gorgeous photos!
Oh wow, I love the idea of ‘harnessing the bold, flavour seeker inside.’Here’s to that!
hello from australia! how gorgeous!! the dinner table by the beach is amazing xx