I’m in a pantry raid kind of mood. These cupboards are so full, and yet every couple of weeks I stare at them, then over at the fridge, trying to justify takeout. There’s so much stuff lurking in the back corners of our kitchen, tucked behind coffee beans and tomato sauce, that I don’t even know what we have. I literally can’t see it.
So last night I put our kitchen to the test: make a full meal using only what we have. I dug out the dried beans, the bottles and spices, the few fresh vegetables left in the fridge, and ended up with this: Quinoa Mung Bean Salad.
I know…mung beans? Who buys mung beans? I do, because I saw them in my grocery store once and thought they were cute. Tiny, green little cartoon-like beans. I’m a sucker for cute, tiny things. I had big plans for them (although I couldn’t tell you now what they were), but they sat in a jar above my fridge for six months. I also went on a big quinoa kick, but that fizzled out before I could go through the two pounds sitting in a jar next to the mung beans. I tend to do that…
I’m offering up a recipe, but really, you can throw whatever you have in here. I suggest a quinoa base plus another small bean (if you don’t have mung beans) and then just go wild with your spices. Toss in some diced raw vegetables for texture, color, and crunch. There’s something gratifying about making a whole meal out of what you thought was nothing. Just keep poking around those cupboards. You’ll be surprised by what you find (I mean food—hopefully not dead mice).
Quinoa Mung Bean Salad
2 cups quinoa
2 cups mung beans
2 teaspoons of salt, plus more to taste
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced (raw)
1 red bell pepper, diced (raw)
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
Sriracha to taste
Prepare the quinoa:
Soak the quinoa in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain using a fine mesh sieve and rinse briefly with more cold water. Transfer to a 2-quart pot and cover in 3 cups of cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil then cover with a tight lid and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the mung beans:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the mung beans and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Keep an eye on them—they will very easily turn to mush if you let them cook too long. Set aside to cool.
Throw it all together:
Combine the cooled quinoa and mung beans in a large bowl. Toss in the remaining ingredients, adjusting the spices, oil, and vinegar until you like it. Serve and top with Sriacha.