Heirloom Bean Salad with Smoky Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette


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The longest-lived people in the world eat about a cup of beans every day, and beans are the cornerstone of the Blue Zones diet. This smoky heirloom bean salad recipe is healthy and delicious, perfect for potlucks, parties, and busy weeks.

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe by Chef Michael Haack, NOLA North Grille at Audubon Inn, Blue Zones Project Dodge County

Experience delicious New Orleans-inspired cuisine at the NOLA North Grille, Wisconsin’s first Blue Zones Project Approved Restaurant.


7 oz each cooked Black Turtle beans, Hopi lima beans, French navy beans, small red beans, pinto beans, yellow peas, and green lentils (any combination of dried legumes will work)

2 cups grated Brussels sprouts

1 cup tri-color or red quinoa

5 whole bay leaves

3 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons mushroom base

1 tablespoon thyme

Cilantro, parsley, or fresh scallion, to garnish

Smoky Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 cup grapeseed oil

½ cup sun-dried tomato

⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon ground basil

1 tablespoon ground black pepper


  1. Soak legumes for 8 hours prior to cooking.
  2. Cook quinoa by boiling in 1 quart of water with mushroom base until the quinoa sprouts. Strain excess liquid and spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
  3. Cook legumes for 1½-2 hours in one gallon of rapidly boiling water with sea salt, thyme, and bay leaves, skimming foam occasionally. The largest legumes should be al dente. Strain excess liquid and spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
  4. Layer ingredients in a large glass or bowl: quinoa, then grated brussels sprouts, then legumes.

Smoky Vinaigrette Directions

  1. In a food processor or heavy duty blender, process sun-dried tomato with grapeseed oil until smooth.
  2. Add white balsamic vinegar to the tomato-oil mixture and process until emulsified.
  3. Add honey, sea salt, ground basil, ground black pepper, and smoked paprika and process until evenly distributed.
  4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette mixture onto the salads; preserve the rest for future use. Garnish with cilantro, parsley, or fresh scallion (optional).