Saturday, July 2, 2011
Black Bean Salad
It is picnic time. One of our favorite picnic/potluck foods is black bean salad. It is the right combination of flavor, crunch and nutritious beans. I've been making variations of this salad for years.
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well.
about 1/4 cup carrots chopped
About 1/4 cup Salad dressing* (bottled Italian or vinaigrette style).
Mix in medium bowl or zip bag and marinate in fridge at least while you prep the rest of the veggies.
3-4 stalks chopped celery from the center of the bunch. Be sure to include the tender leaves.
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers. (red, green, yellow or a mixture)
2 - 3 small tomatoes chopped or 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes.
1/4 cup chopped cucumber (if you like)
a few very thin slices of red onion (or a scant 1/4 cup chopped if you like onion)
1 can black olives sliced.
Toss whatever veggies you like with the marinated beans and carrots and serve. (I usually double the recipe.)
This can also be dressed up as a chopped salad for a more formal look. Marinate the carrots and beans separately. Use a rimmed platter and carefully line the veggies up in rows. Beans in the middle, alternating colors and textures toward each side. Scatter the onion slices on top. Pour on a bit more dressing and allow people to serve themselves whatever veggies they prefer.
I don't have any hard and fast measurements for this recipe. In fact beyond black beans and salad dressing, the options are only limited by your imagination and produce drawer. There are two secrets to making it a great salad and and empty potluck bowl. The first is to make sure that you cut up all your vegetables to be close in size to the black beans. This makes it easier to eat and easier to use as a bean 'dip'. The second rule is to mix up the colors of the veggies you choose. Colorful veggies make it pretty and appealing.
By now, you are reading my important rules, looking at the picture above and wondering about that whole do as I say not as I do thing. Well the picture points out the beauty of this recipe. I had guests over for a salad bar lunch. One of the fixin's was marinated beans. When it was time to put the leftovers away I just dumped all the veggies in with the beans and voila, a new and different side dish for dinner!
* One additional note. My first attempts were made using black eyed peas for New Year's day. In those early days, I blended my own dressing from flavored vinegars and oils. (I'll post that dressing when I root it out of the old recipe box.) Now I use my favorite bottled dressing: Garlic Expressions.