Dairy Free, Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes

Grain and Bean Salad with Pickled Cherry Pepper Vinaigrette

June 28, 2012
Are grain and bean salads white people food? My husband and I have this conversation a lot, well as often as I make a grain or bean salad. He hates them. And asks me “why, for the hundredth time would anyone want to eat cold beans?”

I tell him cold beans are toothsome and filling on a hot day when you want something cool and are especially nice paired with crunchy bits of fennel or cucumber. He tells me no real Mexican would ever eat cold beans. And this is one of those really funny, awesome conversations you get to have when you’ve married outside your race.

While flying home from Dallas last week we were waiting in the security line trying to keep our three-year-old from running off and the baby from crying as the line snaked back-and-forth.

Children tend to give strangers the go ahead to strike up conversation so the older couple who had spent the last five minutes politely smiling at the baby finally got up the nerve to ask how old he was. “Five months.” I tell them. Referring to the baby’s pacifier the woman goes on to tell me in her southern drawl all about her two-year-old granddaughter and her pacifier addiction.

I make some small talk in an attempt to get the conversation to stop and am pretty sure it has come to an end when the husband asks me “So what country are you returning to?” “Did you come here to have your baby?”

Unsure what to make of this question seeing as I am very much a white person with no noticeable accent. I say “I’m from the United States, I am returning to North Dakota.” Unless he was referring to the country of Texas, I’m not sure where he would’ve conjured the notion that we had snuck into the United States five months ago to make my otherwise illegal-alien child ligit.

This is not completely out of the ordinary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversation with my husband in public only to be asked by a stranger if he speaks English. Well, I suppose so seeing as that’s what we were just doing.

That’s just the joy of being Latino in America and as the wife of a Mexican man I get to be privy to such exquisite displays of stupidity. Occasions I otherwise would miss out on in my white world. It is one of the many benefits of being in a bi-racial marriage I get to experience racial profiling and my husband gets to eat cold beans.

Grain and Bean Salad with Pickled Cherry Pepper Vinaigrette

Yield: 8-10


  • 3 cups cooked whole grains (such as brown rice, farro, red rice, or barley)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup chopped, blanched green beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 small head fennel, diced
  • 1/2 large English cucumber, seeds removed
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 sweet pickled cherry peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Combine grains, lentils, green beans, garbanzo beans, fennel, cucumbers and scallions in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate medium bowl combine cherry peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the olive, whisking continuously until all oil has been added. Pour dressing over grain mixture and toss to combine.
  3. Chill in refrigerator at least one hour before serving to let flavors meld. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve cold or room temperature.

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  • With Style and Grace June 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    what a beautiful salad! love all the different flavors and that it can easily be made [naturally] gluten-free!

  • aida mollenkamp June 29, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Kate — Your recount of that whole experience had me laughing til my side hurt! I mean, you should have told them how you grew up in the country of Iowa but recently naturalized in North Dakota! Thanks for sharing this salad — I think I’d really dig the vinaigrette!

  • Sarah Copeland June 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I love this! this is the new bean on bean salad, and so much more delicious. I love how you make the grains interchangeable which makes it super easy to improvise and make this on the fly. Delish, delish. And, who doesn’t love a three-step recipe? Find me someone.

  • Run Lori Run July 2, 2012 at 5:02 am

    What a crazy story, people can be so brainless!

    This salad looks great! I love beans in my salads as we’re trying to eat less meat…..