How was your weekend? Did you have some time to relax and catch up with friends and family?
It was an early morning for us to catch sunrise at Artist Point, Mt. Baker, WA. We packed a cooler and snacks for lunching, plenty of water and headed out the door at 2 am. I had a green smoothie in one hand, coffee in the other.
The drive was beautiful as we approached the mountain. The moon was full, reflecting its light off the shimmering Nooksack river as we made our way up the Mt. Baker Highway. We arrived at Artist Point just before sunrise. A short walk took us to spectacular vantage points.
The air was cool and crisp, with a few clumps of snow scattered here and there, the birds were just waking up and the mosquitos were biting. Hard. (Why is this a recurring theme?). It was peaceful, save the two drunk men who felt it necessary to
ask shout “are you having a good time?” on more than one occasion. I gave them the thumbs up in hopes they’d leave us alone, then pretended they weren’t there.
Just as the moon was getting ready to set over Mt. Baker, the Sun was cresting the mountains to the East. Then, the mountain turned pink.
I felt completely at peace, cradled in cool mountain air, and hugged by trees, despite the drunk men guffawing and biting mosquitos buzzing my ears.
After a few short walks, we lunched for breakfast, lounged among the fir trees in the company of the mountain, listened to the river, hearing the sweetest of songs from feathered friends. Away from the mosquitos, and drunks, it was now, perfectly serene.
Later we took a hike around the lakes, down the river and through the wildflowers, soaking our feet in a glacier-fed stream and watched an American Dipper preen and hunt for insects amongst the rocks and fast-moving water. It was sublime, even after a bit of butt-kicking from the last mile of the hike.
Have you ever been somewhere where the beauty is so inspiring you have to pinch yourself?
Quinoa Mango Black Bean Salad with Smoky Pepitas and Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette is a good one to pack for lunch. Although this one didn’t go with us because we inhaled it prior to the trip, it will be in our cooler for our next picnic. Instead I packed this one, with some watermelon, a few cookies, peaches and Kettle chips. We needed the stamina.
Cookies, you know, provide stamina.
This salad has the sweet from the mango, spicy from the chipotle and smoky paprika, creaminess of avocado and mango, with lots of texture happening from the quinoa and beans, to the smoky pepitas. The smoky pepitas alone are crave-worthy. Roast them up in a larger quantity for snacking. They’re just fabulous!
There’s plenty going on in this salad to make your mouth happy and your tummy full.
Speaking of happy, I’ve struggled with knowing how to cut a mango. So I did a bit of searching for Mango Kitchen Hacks and found a video here and here. My world will never be the same. It’s mango 24/7 now because I no longer dread getting to the good stuff.
With my newfound knowledge of mango cutting, canned black beans and fresh spinach from the Farmer’s Market, this salad comes together with ease.
It’s packed with good-for-you ingredients and makes a welcome addition to your next potluck or picnic. It’s also suitable for a variety of diets because it’s vegan and gluten free.
I think we’re heading back to the mountain this weekend and, I’ll be making another batch of this quinoa salad. It’s cooled a bit here in the Pacific Northwest, thankfully, so perhaps the biting mosquitos will be gone, as well as the drunk men.
What are you up to this weekend?
- For the Salad:
- 1 C (194g) Quinoa, rinsed under running water
- 1 3/4 C (420g) Water
- 1/2 C (72g) Pepitas
- 1/2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 + 1/8 tsp Sea Salt, divided
- 1/4 tsp Hot Smoky Paprika
- 1, 15 oz (425g) Can of Black Beans, rinsed
- 3/4 C (70g) Purple Onion, diced, about 1/2 an onion
- 2 C (330g) Mangos, diced
- 2 C (88g) Spinach, chiffonade and packed
- 4 Tbs Cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 Avocados, diced just before serving
- 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Chipotle Pepper in adobo sauce*
- 2 tsp Adobo Sauce
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp Lime Juice, fresh squeezed
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
- 15 Stems of Fresh Cilantro, leafless stem part removed
- 1/4 C (48g) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a small saucepot, bring quinoa and water to a boil, turn to low and simmer uncovered for 13-14 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, cover and let set for 5 minutes. The quinoa is ready when all the water is absorbed,and the quinoa is tender with it's 'tails' showing. Remove lid and place in refrigerator while the rest of the salad is being prepared.
- Preheat oven to 325F (163C). Toss pepitas with olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and paprika. Toast pepitas for about 8 minutes. They will be slightly golden and fragrant when ready. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl combine the quinoa, beans, onion, mangos, spinach, cilantro, pepitas and the remaining 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt.
- In a food processor, combine the apple cider vinegar, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice, salt, cumin and cilantro. With the processor on, pour in the olive oil. Process until smooth.
- Before serving drizzle 3/4 of the dressing over the salad and mix well. Taste to see if more dressing is desired and adjust as needed. Add a few twists of fresh ground pepper and adjust salt as needed. If time is available, dress the salad about an hour before service. The flavors will come together as it sets in the fridge.
- Just before serving, dice the avocado and gently toss into the salad.
- Store the salad in a lidded container for up to two days.
Thank you for reading! If you make this recipe, be sure to post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter notify me @vanillaandbean and tag #vanillaandbean! I’d love to see what you’ve made! Follow me on Pinterest, too, for even more deliciousness!