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.