Well, perhaps I should call this an un-cooking challenge, because it absolutely can’t involve any heat. Mother Nature has been supplying all the heat I can stand.
I’ve had a particularly busy — and stressful — summer, but was doing all right with making my usual healthy meals. All right, that is, until we started having week after week of never-ending high heat and humidity. Finally, a few weeks ago, something snapped, and I just couldn’t face cooking with any heat, or even eating any warm, let alone hot, foods.
So, I’ve made gazpacho. I’ve had cheese and fruit plates. I’ve had raw veggies and dips. I’ve made salads of every variety I can think of. And I’ve also relied on one of my old standbys, a can of white or black beans turned into a salad.
I always keep several cans of white (sometimes called navy) and black beans in my pantry. To turn them into a salad, I simply drain the juice from the can, and then rinse them thoroughly in a colander to remove all the excess salt and other canned flavorings. Then, after shaking out as much water as possible, I put them in a bowl, add a few other ingredients, either a homemade or bottled dressing, and there you have it, an easy salad with plenty of protein from the beans.
This week’s version included a can of white beans, one tomato diced into pieces about the size of the beans, a couple green onions finely diced, one stalk of celery diced to add a bit of crunch, a bit of crumbled feta, and some fresh basil. For dressing I used my favorite lite bottled Italian dressing, with a bit of ground pepper added. It was really quite tasty, took about five minutes to make, and satisfied my desire for no kitchen heat.
While watching a recording of Chopped last night, I started wondering what some of those chefs might do with a can of white or black beans (well, aside from grumbling about the evils of canned products). Surely they could come up with some really creative, tasty bean salads, with ingredients I’d never thought of. I’ll never get the chance to ask any of the Chopped chefs, but I can ask you. What type of cold salad might you make with a can of white or black beans?
So my challenge for you is to pick either white or black beans, or I suppose you could use both. Then, you can use any bottled or homemade dressing that you prefer. What other ingredients would you add to make a tasty, non-cooked salad?