One of the great things about spring is the beginning of fresh salads, but not just the leafy kind, instead the ones filled with varieties of beans and peas.
There are so many to choose from – black beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, green peas, white beans, kidney beans, green beans and butter beans.
Butter beans are one of my favorites because they’re big enough to be a substitute for croutons. I also love chickpeas because they can also be roasted and also provide some crunch and texture to your salad. Both are a great way to add body to the salad, without adding empty calories or gluten.
Almost all beans and peas are full of vitamins and fiber. But I feel like they are often overlooked as a salad ingredient. Dried beans also have the reputation of being hard to cook, but with a bit of forethought and a few simple steps you can shave time off the cooking process.
Follow these steps for any type of dried beans, peas or legumes.
First, rinse the beans thoroughly in a colander until the water runs clear.
Second, place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
Third, rinse again, place in a pot, cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil. When the beans are soft drain into a colander and run cold water over the beans until they are cool.
Now you can mix them into whatever you want – salads, pasta, sauté with other ingredients to make a side dish or allow the beans to dry and freeze for later use.
Of course, if you are in a hurry you can always buy canned. Just rinse thoroughly and you are ready to go.
BLACK BEAN SALAD
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 red pepper, chopped fine
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup corn
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 cup Italian dressing
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss with the Italian dressing, cover and chill for two hours before serving.
Simon Webster is the Executive Chef & Owner of Sabor Pasion Estate & Vineyard. A multi-event venue in Palestine, Texas. Born in England and raised in New Zealand he brings his globally inspired cuisine and lifestyle to guests of the Sabor a Pasion estate. www.saborapasion.com, 903-729-9500.