A Cooking Challenge of Sorts

white-bean-salad

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?

Any takers?

7 thoughts on “A Cooking Challenge of Sorts

  1. LeeB.

    Well, since I don’t eat beans (hard on my tummy), I’d pass on this food challenge. But maybe you could send your idea to the Chopped producers and see if they use it. ;)

  2. Jo-Ann W.

    I’m more interested in seeing what dressings might be recommended. I love salads but to me, the dressing makes the salad and I’ve yet to find a bottled dressing I really like.

    Otherwise, I like taco salads. A little lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese, broken tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream. Why not throw in some white beans? In cooler weather add seasoned, browned ground beef, turkey or chicken.

  3. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Jo-Ann, you’re so right about the salad dressing making the salad. I take the easy way out too often and use bottled dressing (usually one of the Ken’s light versions), but really preferred homemade. When I do dressing, it’s just olive oil, some kind of vinegar (usually balsamic or white wine), some lemon or lime juice, a bit of Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper. Nothing terribly creative at all, I’m afraid.

    I like the idea of a taco salad with white beans!

  4. Mari

    I make a hummus like dip of any kind of bean I have- 1-2 cans of beans, lemon juice, salt pepper, tahini, olive oil, garlic. All go in the food processor and in less than a minute and easy snack/light dinner. I use with fresh veggies or a whole wheat pita. I’ll heat it up sometimes with jalapeno and cilantro and lime instead of lemon.

    As for a salad- I found one that had black beans, white beans, kidney beans and chick peas, also used peppadew peppers, scallions. The dressing was a mix of balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, a bit of honey, salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil. Very tasty

  5. xina

    I use black beans quite a bit. I make sure to buy organic, low salt. I drain and rinse. A no-cook idea I do is to make chicken tacos. I buy a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, pull off the chicken. I then mix the chicken with some tomatillo salsa (I use the mild…). I then put some black beans in a hard shell taco (or soft), add some chicken, onions tomato some lettuce, avacodo a little low fat cheese and top it with a dollop of greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream).
    These could be made with just the beans and chicken mixture with a dollop of a bit of yogurt or sour cream too.

  6. Audrey

    My daughter has a recipe that you might like. It’s called Greta’s Barely Palatable Salad, because she and her friends had a get together and her friend Greta made this salad. All the girls seemed to find one or another of the ingredients objectionable (thus the name) and yet they all ended up really enjoying the salad. A can of black beans, drained and rinsed, a can of corn, drained, diced or slivered peppers (red, yellow or green, your choice), some minced jalapeno pepper to your taste, and fresh cilantro, to your taste. The dressing is the most interesting part to me – it’s just limes. Lime zest and juice, I seem to recall it took several. It was amazing to me that there’s no oil, but I just loved this salad when she came home and made it for us.

  7. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Audrey, that salad sounds like something I’d enjoy, and how interesting that the dressing is just limes. I’m going to have to give it a try.

    Xina, that’s a very clever way to make tacos! And I do like tacos.

    Mari, I’ve never made my own hummus, but you make it sound possible.

    Thanks!

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