amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Warm heirloom Black Bean Salad with Tangy Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Dressing

POSTED ON February 20, 2014

salad + dressing

salad + dressing

During the last photo shoot for my cookbook we focused on my pantry and  capturing ingredient glossary shots. For these, I needed to have all my favorite beans on hand; since many are heirloom beans, I made a big order from Rancho Gordo in California.  They have the best range or runner beans, which are large, creamy and super flavorful. Runners come in all colors: scarlet, which I used here, black, purple and white. They make any dish special and taste great in a simple olive oil and vinegar marinade. These black runners, called Ayocote negro are absolutely beautiful and make the simplest of meals stand out. They also seem to keep their bright shine, and shape even after being cooked and the texture is delightfully creamy.  I do find that they need to cook 40 minutes in the pressure cooker, rather than 30 minutes like other large beans. If you’re boiling them you may need to allow another 30 to 40 minutes to make sure they are cooked through.

ayocote negro beans

ayocote negro beans

Having a jar of these cooked beans in the fridge, effortlessly dresses up simple salads or any plain steamed vegetable or grain bowl. I’ve bean eating variations of this salad all week, steaming vegetables I have on hand, sometimes stirring in some warm quinoa and always topping it with a bit of avocado. I’m also been adding this tasty cilantro pumpkin seed dressing (inspired by this recipe) to anything that needs a burst of bright flavor.

cilantro pumpkin seed dressing

cilantro pumpkin seed dressing

beans, squash, scallions and cilantro leaves

beans, squash, scallions and cilantro leaves

Tangy cilantro Pumpkin Seed Dressing

The inspiration for this dressing comes from My New Roots. If you have plenty of limes and want a more pronounced lime flavor then replace some of the apple cider vinegar with fresh lime juice. I enjoy this dressing both thick and creamy and also thinned out a bit with a little extra water, depending on what I’m drizzling it over.

Makes about 1 ¼ cup

½ cup freshly toasted pumpkin seeds

½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

½ – 1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon white balsamic

1 teaspoon tamari

Large pinch cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

Sea salt to taste

½ cup filtered water, plus more to thin out dressing

¼ cup cold pressed flax oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to an upright blender and blend until smooth. Add sea salt to taste and extra cayenne pepper, and blend again. Pour into a jar and store any left over in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Heirloom black bean and kabocha Salad

Although not pictured here, avocado makes a great addition to this salad.

If you cooked the beans ahead like I often do, you can reheat them when you steam the squash or serve them room temperature.

Serves 4

2 cups cooked black runner (Ayocote Negro) beans, drained

Sea salt

¼ of a medium kabocha squash, seeded, cut in thirds and sliced in ¼ inch thick pieces

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cilantro leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish


While beans are still warm place them in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, stir to combine and set aside.

Place kabocha in a steamer basket and steam for about 10 minutes or until soft but not falling apart. Add to the beans, along with the scallions and gently toss to combine. Divide into bowls, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds and drizzle with dressing.



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  • This bean salad looks lovely. I make a pumpkin seed dressing that is similar but I love that you add flax oil. Must remember that next time but first am looking forward to making this!

  • Julia says:

    I just made this dressing for dinner, because I had a bunch of cilantro that needed to be used today, and I´m so happy I did! Its perfectly balanced in taste and so easy to make and it really completet my dinner bowl (millet and canihua with roasted roots and avocado) Think this will be made repeatedly around here!
    And I want to tell you that its always such a joy to cook from your recipes, either from your blog or book, and I really am so happy to have found my way to you and your wonderful relationship to food, that you are willing to share. THANK YOU!

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