Basic “Beanoa” (Beans & Quinoa)

A nutritious “remix” that will make your taste buds sing
mixed beans in a bowl
Pexels / Milada Vigerova

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike when I have to read through the long “history” of a recipe to get to the actual recipe; but alas, now that I’m writing it, it seems important (probably only to me).  

Back in the 1990s, I made a recipe for “Whole Wheat Couscous and French Lentils” from Marcella Rosene’s book Pasta & Co. By Request. It was a hit with my crew at the time! As time passed, I eventually matriculated to Bastyr University and learned so much from Cynthia Lair of Cooking for the Whole Family-fame. I started to tinker with this recipe after reading, switching quinoa for the couscous. For ease, I also started adding in canned beans instead of cooking lentils like the original.  

Then along came my son, Calvin, who loved the beans and quinoa with just the “sauce.” Calvin didn’t want the feta or veggies tainting it (as he was a “food separatist” in his childhood). This family recipe has evolved as my kids have become teens, and we’ve started adding some of the fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumber, and feta back in (rather than having it on the side).  Sometimes, we add salted nuts or put a scoop of beanoa on top of salad greens as the “dressing.”  

Try my basic beanoa recipe or customize it to make your own family-recipe favourite.

Basic Beanoa Recipe

  • 1 c quinoa (rinsed in cold water)
  • 2 cans of your favorite beans (we like one can of white beans and one can of black beans)
  • ½ c of good quality olive oil
  • The fresh juice of ½-1 lemon, to taste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2-3 tsp cumin (we like lots)
  • 1-2 tsp grainy mustard
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste (we like lots of this too!)
  • Fresh oregano, tarragon, marjoram and/or mint (if I have it)

Mix-ins (optional)

  • Cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Feta
  • Salted nuts
  • Fresh herbs – mint in particular 


1. Begin with a pot of rapidly boiling salted water and add the rinsed quinoa. Let it boil like you would a pasta until done (9-10 mins).  The quinoa should be a little “toothsome,” but not crunchy.  Meanwhile, rinse the beans well and put them in a medium-sized bowl.  

2. Mix everything else into your dressing and adjust for taste. Add to the beans and stir. 

3. When the quinoa is done, strain it well and add it to the beans and dressing while still warm (this will let the dressing soak up into the quinoa). Gently stir/fluff to cool the mixture to keep the quinoa from getting overcooked and mushy.  

Note: I think this dish is best served a little warm or room temperature, but it will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. If you’re going to mix in veggies, feta, nuts, or fresh herbs, it’s best to do that right before you serve it.  

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