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Trail Bytes, April 2024: Zesty Black Bean Salad Recipe
April 25, 2024

Here's your Trail Bytes Recipe of the Month: Black Bean Salad with Cilantro-Lime Marinade.

When I’m back in Georgia, my daughters invite me over to their homes every week for dinner. I arrive early because my granddaughters expect a playdate with Papi, what they call me. A common theme this last visit, besides playing house under a blanket draped over chairs, was black beans marinated or slow-cooked with lime juice and cilantro. One daughter made a thick soup out of them, served over rice, and the other a side salad.

With the basic elements of the recipes noted, I headed back to Switzerland with four cans of black beans in my suitcase. For some reason, I can’t find them here. What follows is a merging of the two recipes, optimized for dehydrating into backpacking meals, but the salad is also delicious served fresh.

Photo: Black bean salad served fresh without dehydrating.

This Black Bean Salad with Cilantro-Lime Marinade pairs well with pearl couscous, so I dried and added that separately. Other pairing options besides pearl couscous are rice, sweet potato cubes, butternut squash cubes, or pumpkin cubes, which can all be dried separately.

Explore How to Dehydrate:


Sweet Potato Cubes

Butternut Squash Cubes

Pumpkin Cubes

Rehydrate black bean salad with cold or hot water, and enjoy it as a refreshing cold-soak lunch or hot evening meal. The cold-soak method takes a minimum of two hours, so add the water after breakfast.

If serving the salad fresh, dice the bell peppers whatever size you like. Dice the bell peppers finely if dehydrating the salad, so they dry at the same rate as the other ingredients. Dice the onions finely either way.

Black Bean Salad with Cilantro-Lime Marinade

Makes 4 cups before dehydrating.


  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans (850 g)
  • 4 meaty tomatoes (2 cups diced, 400 g)
  • 1 medium bell pepper (½ cup diced, 75 g)
  • 1 medium onion (⅓ cup diced, 50 g)*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (20 g)
  • 2 limes, grated and juiced
  • 3 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sriracha sauce*
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cumin

Ingredient Notes:

*Sriracha sauce is used for a little mild heat. Alternatively, you can add heat with a finely diced cayenne pepper. The salad is still spicy with no hot ingredients if you want to omit the sriracha sauce.

*If you are sensitive to raw onions, use less, or use milder green onions.


Rinse beans thoroughly and place in bowl, followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Dice the tomatoes. Meaty tomatoes with less liquid and fewer seeds, such as San Marzano tomatoes, work well.

Finely dice the bell peppers and onions, and mince the garlic.

Chop cilantro leaves into small pieces.

Add the grated zest and juice of two limes.

Add apple-cider vinegar, sriracha sauce, salt, and cumin.

Stir well and place salad in refrigerator for several hours, even overnight if convenient.

Dehydrating Black Bean Salad

Photo: Two cups of black bean salad before drying.

See my recommendation for silicone dehydrator trays that work great.

Place salad and all juices on nonstick dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for approximately 8+ hours. Two Cosori dehydrator trays were used for this recipe; 2 cups of wet salad on each tray.

Dried black bean salad will be mostly crispy and some of the beans will be split open. This will help with rehydration, especially using the cold-soak method.

Yield: 4 cups of wet salad (1000 g) yield 2¼ cups dry salad (177 g).

Photo: Dehydrated black bean salad.

Precooking & Dehydrating Pearl Couscous

Israeli couscous, commonly called, pearl couscous, is a toasted pasta in the shape of fish eggs. Firmer than regular couscous, it pairs well with flavorful salads. To use it in backpacking meals, precook and dehydrate it.

Follow the cooking instructions on the box. I cooked 1 cup (200 grams) in 2 liters of salted water for 9 minutes.

Drain water and place cooked pearl couscous on nonstick dehydrator trays. I used 2 Cosori dehydrator trays, 1½ cups of cooked couscous per tray.

Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for approximately 4+ hours.

Yields: 1 cup (200 g) from the package yields 3 cups (555 g) cooked. The yield after dehydrating is 1½ cups (189 g).

Photo: Pearl couscous on silicone dehydrator tray before drying.

Rehydrating Black Bean Salad & Couscous

You can vary the ratio of salad to couscous to your preference. I went with an equal quantity of each by volume.

Servings: 1


  • ½ cup dried black bean salad (40 g)
  • ½ cup dried pearl couscous (60 g)
  • 1¼ cups water to rehydrate

*A teaspoon of oil can be added to the meal after it is rehydrated for extra calories, but oil is not necessary for flavor.

Cold-soak Preparation: Add cold water to ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid. A thermos food jar works well. Wait 2 hours, up to 4 hours for best results.

Hot Water Preparation: If preparing meal in a pot, add water to ingredients, let soak 5 minutes, bring to a boil for 1 minute, and then transfer meal to an insulating pot cozy for 15 minutes. If preparing in a separate container, such as a Mylar bag, add boiled water to ingredients, insulate container, and wait 20-25 minutes.

You may end up with a little extra water in the rehydrated meal, but it will be flavorful.

Photo above: Black Bean & Pearl Couscous Salad rehydrated with cold water after a 3-hour soak.

Photo above: Same meal rehydrated with boiled water after about 20 minutes.

How was it?

Delicious. Black Bean Salad is a zesty meal served hot or cold on the trail. Change it up for variety by pairing it with other starches like rice, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, or quinoa.

Bean There, Done That

Explore more bean content:

Dehydrating Beans | Backpacking Chef

How to dehydrate canned and homemade beans including edamame beans.

Recipes for Adventure

Chapter 2: Bean Bark, Black Bean & Salsa Bark, Enchilada Bean Bark, Baked Bean Bark, Corn Bark with Beans.

Recipes for Adventure II

Chapter 4: Beans, Lentils & Quinoa Recipes.

Chapter 9: Cold-Soak Salads.

Photo: Fresh black bean salad served with a side of pearl couscous. Make it for your next cookout.

That’s a wrap for April. It's bean fun. For next month’s adventure we'll delve into dehydrating pears, pear fruit leather, and crispy-sweet pear skins.

Freundliche Grüsse,

Chef Glenn & Dominique

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