PHOTO TUTORIAL | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Fear Conquered: Meatless Meals
You don't need meat for dinner. You don't need chicken, fish or shrimp either. What you really need are beans.
I started working on this bean salad back in 2010 and the whole objective of the salad was to make it without meat. I'm not a vegetarian and I have nothing against the occasional roast chicken, the rare filet mignon or a good meatball from time-to-time. But I'm not in love with meat.
I am in love with beans.
I've blogged about my love for beans before and why they really do say "I love you" to people you cook for. I've even devoted an entire post on how to cook beans (and thus avoid opening cans lined with chemicals like BPA). But just in case you're new to my infatuation with beans, let me extoll this little wonder-food once again.
Beans are positively packed with fiber, nutrients and protein - all without being packaged in fat. As if that weren't enough, beans release protein and fiber slowly, keeping tummies full and satisfied longer. And, beans are the ultimate blank slate of ingredients - savory or sweet, these willing little helpers take on the flavor of whatever you pair them with. Step aside meat, fish and poultry - you've got nothing on beans.
So who's surprised I'm back with yet another recipe featuring beans? This guacamole bean salad doesn't try to hide or disguise or transform the beans. No blending or pureeing and NO meat (not even bacon). This salad is proudly all about the beans. And that's not a bad thing.
The first time I made this salad it was a complete accident of tasty wholesomeness. I had a bunch of produce in the fridge, some avocados that weren't getting any fresher, a brick of cheddar cheese whispering sweet temptations in my ear and not a lick of meat, fish or poultry in the house. So while my other half ran out to rent Shutter Island from Redbox, I cooked off a batch of black beans (with a whole lot of dried spices) and toasted off a pan of homemade croutons. As we sat down to watch the movie, my other half looked at me over a mouthful of salad and said:
"You know you're gonna need a name for this, right? Because nobody's gonna wanna eat vegetable bean salad."
So, while watching Shutter Island and trotting back and forth from the kitchen with second helpings, we hatched the name Guacamole Bean Salad. I’ve added Southwestern for good measure. Call it what you will, but this salad is a meal-in-one that will change your perspective on beans.
I'm donating this recipe to the Pink Whisk Challenge: Save the Children and the Hidden Hunger Campaign. All the recipes collected during this challenge will be collated and published in a Save the Children e-cookbook - and the cookbook will be sold to raise awareness and funds for the Hidden Hunger Campaign. Hundreds of children die daily from lack of food and malnutrition - so take this opportunity to help and donate a family favorite recipe!
I learned about this very worthy cause from my blogging friend, The More Than Occasional Baker and you can learn more and get involved by visiting the Pink Whisk Challenge blog. At very least, I ask that you visit the Save the Children site and Name Your Day to beat hunger. Once you've named your day with Save the Children, you will asked on your day to take one of five easy actions to spread the word about this crisis - like posting a tweet or cooking a meal. So take action (you don't have to be a blogger) and name your day.
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|Bring 1 gallon of purified water to the boil.|
|Measure the spices and beans.|
|Add the beans, spices and boiling water to the insert of a slow-cooker.|
|Cover the slow-cooker and cook the beans on HIGH for 1 hour, then reduce to LOW and cook for another 1 1/2 hours.|
|Drain the beans and cool to room temperature before adding to the salad. Do NOT rinse the beans.|
|Once the beans are cool, add them to a large bowl for the salad.|
|Add diced yellow or orange bell pepper.|
|Halve a cucumber and use a spoon to remove the seeds.|
|After removing the seeds, dice the cucumber and add to the salad.|
|Halve 1 pint of grape tomatoes and add to the salad.|
|Add 8 ounces of cubed extra-sharp cheddar cheese.|
|Chop a handful of fresh basil and add to the salad.|
|Combine all the ingredients together.|
|With a sharp knife, slice the avocados lengthwise around the pit. Twist the two halves of each avocado to separate from the pit. Remove the pit with your knife, then scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon. Add to a small bowl.|
|Add the juice of 2 limes to the avocado.|
|Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to the avocado.|
|In a small bowl, combine the avocado, garlic and lime juice.|
|Using a knife to cut through the avocado until it resembles a chunky paste.|
|In a separate measure, add 1/3 cup homemade mayonnaise.|
|Add 2/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt.|
|Add the paprika, salt and cracked black pepper.|
|Whisk to combine.|
|Pour the avocado and the dressing over the salad. Mix thoroughly, then chill for an hour before serving.|
|Serve chilled and top with optional homemade croutons for an added crunch.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Southwestern Guacamole Bean Salad
Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 2 hrs 30 min
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 gallon purified water, boiling
- 1 pound (2 cups) dry black beans
- 2 Tablespoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Seasoned Black Beans
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 2 bell peppers (yellow or orange), diced
- 1 cucumber, halved, seeded and diced
- 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
- 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 Haas avocados, pits and peels removed
- 2 limes, juice of
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup homemade mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Up to 2 days in advance: Add the dry beans, seasonings and boiling water to a slow-cooker insert, stir well and cover; cook the beans on the slow-cooker HIGH setting for 1 hour, then reduce to the LOW setting and cook for another 1 1/2 hours until the beans are soft; drain the beans and cool to room-temperature before adding the beans to the salad. Do NOT rinse the beans
- Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl; in a separate small bowl, combine the avocado, lime juice and garlic; cut through the avocado with a butter knife until it forms a chunky paste, then add the paste to the salad
- Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium measure and pour over the salad; toss the salad thoroughly to combine, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour
- Serve chilled; optionally top with homemade croutons for an added crunch
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STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | PRINTABLE RECIPE
Hungry for Tips?
- Slow Cooker: If you start from scratch, the beans will require a bit of a time investment for an otherwise easy salad. So I recommend cooking the beans a day or two in advance. A slow cooker makes this easy to do and requires very little babysitting.
- Tools: I use a chopper gadget, garlic press and juicer to speed up the prep work for this salad. With these tools, I can pull the salad together (once the beans are cooked) in about 45 minutes. Not too shabby for a meal-in-one salad that feeds at least 8 people.
- Spices: When I first made this salad in 2010, I didn't measure anything. It was a shake of this, a pinch of that, a dollop of this and a squeeze of that. I've since measured, tested and documented the ingredients and steps I prefer, but the most critical part of this recipe is infusing the beans with flavor. So be generous with your bean seasonings and change it up if you're not happy with the spice blend.
- Smoked Paprika: I’m drawing special attention to the smoked paprika - because it’s that important. You must use smoked paprika. Period. Sweet Hungarian paprika is delicious for some things, but not this salad. It just doesn’t provide the smokey depth of flavor this salad needs.
- Croutons: Homemade croutons are a fantastic topper for this salad - they add a wonderful crunch and a much needed contrast to the beans and veggies. But if you don’t get around to making croutons, this salad is still delicious. And don't resort to the store-bought, plastic-pouched, hard-as-a-rock croutons - they will only bring sadness to your salad.
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