Thursday, May 14, 2009

Add color to taste

It's that time of year.   Today, I'm going to the grocery to stock up on the ingredients for suppers.  Last year, I learned that my husband WANTS to eat these things for dinner when it's hot outside.  I can't believe I struggled through 14 years of hot suppers in our Texas summers before he told me.

I am still developing my cold salad technique.  Right now, if I make a particularly good one, DH will say "Honey, that recipe is a keeper."  What he doesn't realize is that it's just a method, not a recipe.   Most of it comes from cans, but only because I am lazy.  If I wanted to, I could soak and soften dried beans, and used fresh corn, beans, peas, whatever.  But it's still a little early in the year for most of the fresh stuff, so for right now, canned it is.

The basic dressing I use is
3 T rice wine vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 t sugar (omit sugar if using seasoned rice wine vinegar)
1/4 t Thai red curry paste  (or more, to taste.  Remember, my DH is a sissy when it comes to spicy.)
Mix the vinegar and sugar together and warm (just a few seconds in the microwave and watch it carefully!) til the sugar dissolves.  Stir in red curry paste, then olive oil.  After you've made this once or twice, you won't need to measure.  You may switch up the acid component-lemon juice, white vinegar, sherry vinegar; depending on what you have on hand.  Instead of sugar, you could use honey, or maple syrup, or even jelly.  You could use mayo or bottled dressing if you want.

The basic salad is-
1 can of beans, rinsed and drained
1 other can of beans or corn, rinsed and drained
2 T minced red onion
1 rib celery, diced (or something crunchy, like jicama or water chestnuts)
1 T-1/2 c color
salt, pepper, herbs & spices as desired

The beans I use include black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans (shown), and canelli beans.  I have black eyed peas and purple hulled peas on the shelf to try, I just haven't yet.  The second can of beans/corn could very well be 1 c. green beans or some other leftover vegetable, depending on what I have on hand.

What the heck do I mean by color?  That's the ingredient that makes the salad sparkle.  Last night, I halved about a dozen black olives and every ripe tomato on the vine, and threw them in the salad.  See how much yum that added?  The color component could be red pepper, avocado, bacon bits, olives, capers, green onions, artichokes, diced tomatoes, hot peppers, cheese, ham, toasted nuts .... whatever's laying around in the kitchen.  I search the store shelves for little bits of 'color' for my salad.  That little extra bit takes it from lunch line to lush!  Note:  If using avocado, apple, or any other component that browns easily, do not add until serving time.

I think a combination of a diced pickled jalapeno and a tablespoon of bacon bits sounds outstanding, but neither one of us actually likes jalapenos enough to eat them in a salad.  That's someone else's experiment.  

Anyhow, mix all the ingredients together with the dressing, and chill for an hour, then check your seasoning.  This salad should serve three as a main dish (with a roll on the side) or six as a side.  Serve on a bed of salad greens if desired.

Added bonus-this takes 15 minutes to throw together .... tops.  This gives you more time for knitting or sitting on the back porch with a beer.


Grace said...

sounds really good to us, we are cold easy dinner kind of people with the change of seasons too!!!

Cece said...

Oh! Love this idea!! Lunch for sure for me, at least. Nice and easy.

kellygirl said...

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm that sounds deee-licious! I love the Thai curry component. I will be trying this soon. I bet it would be good with a green salad as well.

Anonymous said...

Very nice "method"...:) Thanks for sharing.

I love cold-salads-as-main-dish in warm weather. In winter, a rich soup does the trick once a week around here.


Cindy G said...

Yum! I like cold salads in the summer, too. One of my favorites starts with a can of black beans (not to pretty to look at, but tasty).

smariek said...

Sounds good. It's hot here, and I'm wondering what possessed me to plan for baking pizza tonight. Cold salad sounds much better...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe/method! I'll probably serve it over pasta for younger DS...he will eat new things if they're with plain spaghetti!