Ensalada 7 granos

Ensalada 7 Granos (Ensalda de la Abuelita Alejandra)

IMG_1022Every dia de todos santos my mom would take me to la Cancha (market) to buy the ingredients for my grandmother’s favorite recipe “la ensalada de 7 granos.” I loved going with her to pick the grains for the salad. My favorite part was the display of the grains and the free samples of cooked grains from the doñitas (vendor ladies).  For my mom this was her way to remember my grandmother. My grandmother had a stand in la Cancha were she sold vegetables from 6 am to 6 pm. I grew up knowing my grandmother through this recipe since I never got to meet her. My mom would talk a lot about her from when we were on our way to get the ingredients to the time she would set the table with the salad. So since my earliest memories, I have called this salad “La ensalada de la abuelita alejandra” It brings happy memories of my mom and my grandmother.


Serves 8

1/2 cup kidney beans

1/2 cup pinto beans

1/2 cup canolini beans

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

1/2 cup fava beans

1/2 cup cooked barley

1 vidalia onion (or red onion)

1 large tomato

2 tbsp chopped cilantro (or Quilquina)

1 jalapeno pepper without the seeds (you can use half a green pepper)

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs cider vinagrette

salt and pepper


You can find all the ingredients canned except the barley.


Soak 1/4 cup of barley a night before and cook until soft. Rinse and let it cool


Meanwhile peel the fava beans  (since the canned fava beans come with the skins on). In bolivia we eat them with the skin but the here the canned version’s skin is too hard.


Rinse the other beans and put them together in a large bowl. Add the barley and fava beans.


Dice the onion, tomatoes and pepper.


Added to the bean mix and top with the cilantro or quilquina and mix slightly


Wisk together the oil vinegar, salt, and pepper and add to the mix before serving.

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You can serve it just as a salad or as a side. It goes really well with steak. You can add or switch any bean and replace it with what you have on hand.

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The last time I was in Bolivia, I went to market with my mom and took this photo.  This is how cooked beans are sold in the markets and how they beautifully arranged in their own fabric bag. You can buy any type of cooked bean or corn.

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Laphin Cochabambino

Laphin Cochabambino


Laphin meat wasn’t too expensive when I was growing up so my mom would buy a lot to cook. Usually  flank steak in Bolivia comes with a layer of thick fat on one side. My mom would make perfect rhombus cuts in the fat side and then rub papaya on the meat and let it rest the entire night. The part that I liked about cooking this dish was peeling the fava beans, which are my favorite beans. The sound of opening the beans pods and eating raw beans was rewarding after peeling at least 8 lbs of them, yes we were a large family. Fava beans are only available early in the summer to late spring and they like cold weather to grow. So go out and look at your local Farmers Market for this wonderful ingredient and cook a delicious laphin!


1 lb Flank Steak (laphin in Bolivia)

2 lb fava beans

1/2 papaya with the skin no seeds

1/2 lemon

salt and pepper

8 large red potatoes or 16 small red potatoes

4 ears of corn

1/2 red onion

1 large red tomato

1/2 green pepper or jalapeño

2 tbsp cilantro

1/4 cup fresh cheese (optional)





Prepare the ingredients, you can find papaya at any Latin American store. The papaya needs to be ripe and not green.


For the meat, prepare 2 hours ahead, clean the meat and make slices on one of the sides in a rhombus (tilted rectangle) shape. Take the seeds out the papaya and half lemon and rub the lemon on the meat. Smash the papaya with your hands onto the meat and rub it. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

If you want to prepare a night ahead to have a softer meat just use double the amount of papaya and leave out the lemon.


Fava beans are hard to find them but they’re getting more popular in the USA. I found mine at a local farmers market.

You want them to be as fresh as possible, fava beans have two layers of skin. When you are buying look for the greenish ones and for the ones don’t bend easily. Open the pod and you will find the beans inside.

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For this recipe will leave the layer of skin on the bean, but if you are using fava beans in soups, you want to remove the second layer.

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Boil the fava beans  for 10 min don’t overcook them. You know they are ready when they turn bright green.


Prepare the salad the same way we prepared it for the Picante de pollo. I would add the jalapeño peppers to this salad and (if you can find it) definitely quesillo (fresh cheese).


Boil the potatoes with the skin on. I love the small red ones, they have a similar taste to our Bolivian papas.


Heat 4 tbs oil and fry the laphin side with the cuts first for about 5 min and then turn over and cook for 5 min. Cover the frying pan for the last 5 min and reduce the heat.

Meanwhile boil the corn.


Serve hot. I hope you enjoy making this dish as much as I did!