Archive for the ‘Legumes’ Category

Mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, green beans, mushrooms, and scallions. Balsamic vinaigrette.



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This was an experiment. My dad showed up with a gorgeous, ripe pineapple. I had baby kale in the fridge. My miso soup eating son provided me with half a block of savory firm tofu. Add avocado, mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil, and I was set. Yum. A little weird, but I really enjoyed the pineapple and tofu, and they worked well with the earthy baby kale.


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Still using up the arugula, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and mushrooms. Today’s variation includes kidney beans, basil, dried cranberries and a pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette.

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Early morning, time to make lunches. We had almost everything I needed for a couple of rocking southwestern salads, so I pulled all my ingredients out and got to work. No radishes in the house, so I used yellow bell pepper for extra crunchiness, and I went for pinto beans instead of black beans because, well, I felt like it.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado Citronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

All of the ingredients, ready to go.

(Serves one as a meal.)
4 cups of arugula.
1/2 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and sliced.
2 mandarins, peeled and sectioned.
2 scallions, sliced.
1 fistful of fresh cilantro.
Zest of 1/2 a lemon.

Southwestern Avocado Citronette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T fresh lemon juice.
1/2 avocado, spooned into jar.
1/2 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp cumin.
1/4 tsp smoked paprika.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado Citronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

The finished salad, ready for the dressing to rain down and the fork to attack like lightning.

Since I was making two salads, one for me to eat at home and one for my husband to eat at work, I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I started by laying down my lovely beds of arugula — mine in a bowl, his in a stainless steel container with a tight fitting lid. I rinsed and drained the pinto beans, setting them aside in a sieve to drain a little more while I worked. I zested the lemon over the greens, and crafted my salad dressings in twin jars. In this case, that included measuring out the ingredients, and spooning the avocado into the jars as well. I shook them up and tested them by dipping a leaf of arugula into the citronette and tasting for salt and flavor balance. I peeled and sectioned the mandarins. (Yes, they are far more beautiful when they are sliced open and the jeweled fruit is exposed, but those plain little membranes keep the citrus juices from wilting the greens.) I chopped the yellow bell pepper, the scallions, and the cilantro, and added all of my ingredients to my beds of arugula. I nestled my husband’s jar of citronette in with his salad and snapped a picture before popping the lid back on.

Salads just don’t take that long to make — twenty minutes or less of chopping and mixing, and you’ve got a deliciously nutritious meal, for now or later.

Recipe for Salad with Southwestern Avocado CItronette, Pinto Beans, Mandarins, and Yellow Bell Pepper

Here's the same salad, packed to go!

The Verdict:
You know what I thought of this. I loved it. Juicy citrus, creamy beans, crunchy bell pepper, peppery arugula… This is a can’t fail recipe for me, and, once again, it succeeded.

Make it a Meal:

Pack it to Go:

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Shared lunch! I love it when we’re both home at lunch time, and I can mix up a huge salad in one big bowl, and we can snuggle up and eat it together. We were out of lettuce, so I turned to my favorite lettuce stand-in, celery. I figured out a while back that celery salads are really incredible. Super crunchy, so you can go a little crazier with the beans, avocado, and other creamy ingredients. Celery also doesn’t wilt, so the leftovers are tasty, and you can play with dressing it when you make it instead of carting the dressing along. The flavor of celery works particularly well with lemon, but I didn’t have any. I didn’t even have a lime or a grapefruit to substitute, so I decided to try a simple rice wine vinaigrette instead. I added garbanzo beans, lots of mint and parsley, scallions, and an apple for a little sweetness.

Salad with Celery, Garbanzo Beans, Mint, and Apple

Let the chopping begin!

(Serves two for lunch.)
1 head of celery, chopped.
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained.
1 apple, quartered, cored, and chopped.
3 scallions, chopped.
1 fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of parsley, chopped.

Rice Wine Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for several days.)
1T rice wine vinegar.
3T extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

This was a chopping frenzy. I started by rinsing the garbanzo beans and setting them aside to drain. I prepared my rice wine vinaigrette in a small jar. Then I turned berserker with my favorite knife. I transferred my mountains of chopped celery and apple and scallions and herbs to the big bowl as I went, adding the drained garbanzo beans just before shaking up the vinaigrette and drizzling it over the salad.

Please note that this salad serves two, and use half the main ingredients if you’re fixing it for one. Feel free to make a normal batch of vinaigrette, since it keep well for several days.

Salad with Celery, Garbanzo Beans, Mint, and Apple

Time to eat.

The Verdict:
I was surprised by how delightful the rice wine vinaigrette and apple were. They worked incredibly well — it was more delicate than the bright lemon version I usually make, and I loved it. The apple was a great addition, with it’s sweetness and the contrasting crunch. The fresh herbs brought the salad to life, and the creamy garbanzo beans made it remarkably filling, even hearty. My husband and I ate every bite. It was just that yummy.

Make it a Meal:

Pack it to Go:
This is the easiest salad to pack to go — it is actually fine to dress it when you pack it. I like how the celery soaks up the vinaigrette. If it will be sitting for more than a few hours, the herbs will wilt, so if that bothers you, keep the dressing in a separate jar, and combine before you eat it.

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Lunch salad prep time: early morning, fridge full of goodies, ideas swirling in my head… I improvise more than I plan. This time, I didn’t even have a clear theme, unless you call balsamic vinaigrette a theme. I grabbed what looked good, put it all together, and declared it a salad.

Golden Beet, Fennel, and Kidney Beans

The ingredients are ready for chopping.

Golden Beet, Fennel and Kidney Beans: Grated Beet

Golden beet, grated and ready to be sprinkled into the salad.

(Serves one as a lunch salad.)
1 romaine heart, chopped.
3 mushrooms, sliced.
1 scallion, sliced.
2 sprigs of basil, leaves removed and chopped, stalk discarded.
1 sprig of marjoram, leaves stripped, stalk discarded.
1/2 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced.
1/2 cup grated golden beet.
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate the rest for several days.)
1 T balsamic vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 pinch of salt, to taste.

I was making two salads, as usual, so I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I started by rinsing the kidney beans and leaving them in a sieve to drain. Then I chopped the lettuce and made a nice bed for the vegetables. I rinsed and chopped and sliced until both bowls were vibrantly full of flavorful bite sized bits. I grated the golden beet, a trick I learned from a good friend, and generously sprinkled a handful over each salad. Then I added the beans, and dusted the salads with freshly ground black pepper. Finally, I whipped up the balsamic vinaigrette, slipped a jar of it into my husband’s salad, and popped the lid on the container. My salad and my jar of dressing went into the fridge for later.

Golden Beet, Fennel and Kidney Beats: Ready to eat.

Ready to eat!

The Verdict:
These textures really worked well together. I loved the crunchy fennel with the creamy beans, the little mushrooms sponging up the vinaigrette, and the delicious nibbles of beet clinging to the crispy romaine. The flavors were mostly perfect — basil and balsamic vinegar are made for each other. I think the marjoram was a bit heavy handed, so I recommend using about half of what I used. It might even be wiser to use about a fourth, and to include it directly in the dressing, so that it’s subtle and infused throughout instead of big punches of flavor. This is definitely worth playing with again.

Golden Beet, Fennel, and Kidney Beans: Packed to go.

Packed to go!

Make it a meal:

Pack it to Go:
Done. Just keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat, then add only as much as you need, fork toss (or put the lid back on and give it a few quick shakes), and enjoy.

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