Moroccan four-bean salad (6-7 servings as a main dish)

Can we just  get a #Sundaysalads trend going already? I'm sure I can't be the only one who preps a make-ahead recipe on Sunday afternoon to eat throughout the week.

Today's offering comes from the May/June issue of Eating Well with a few changes to make this dish even easier. I added a pop of color by throwing in a handful of thawed green beans from the freezer, and I saved myself the hassle of chopping carrots by using shredded carrots from the grocery store's salad bar. I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and rather than chopping up the fresh herbs, I blended them with the oil and lemon juice to make a velvety, viridescent-speckled vinaigrette. (Plus, doing this keeps the mint leaves from turning brown.) I also decreased the oil, as I've found most bean salad recipes too greasy for my taste. Some of the Moroccan-inspired ingredients may seem a bit strange, but they all work together to make an intriguing, exotic flavor combination that will make eaters think, "Oooh, what is that?" And I can imagine that once the flavors have a chance to get to know each other in the fridge overnight, they'll taste even better than they did just after meeting!

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

Salad

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 2 15-oz cans beans (I used dark red kidney beans and black eyed peas), rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 1 cup chopped green beans (feel free to thaw them from a freezer-aisle bag)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot

Vinaigrette 

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (If you can find roasted garlic powder, it really pumps up the flavor)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cumin

Steps:

  1. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Starting with the parsley and mint leaves, place all vinaigrette ingredients in a wide-mouthed mason jar or the bowl of a food processor. If using a jar, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients until smooth; otherwise, blend the vinaigrette in a food processor. Once the vinaigrette is smooth, pour it over the salad ingredients and toss gently. Taste to see if more salt is needed. (I needed more because all three cans of beans were sodium-free.) Serve cold or at room temperature.

So to sum up, this recipe doesn't require any heat for cooking, it's super quick to make, it's vegan, and it's gluten-free. I can't think of a better #Sundaysalad or potluck dish!

Cheesy broccoli orzo (4 servings)

Sometimes my stomach's rumblings are more eloquent than my mouth's... worderings.

Some days, I excitedly plop down in front of the blog with a clever, funny, or unique intro ready to go, the words flying from my fingers almost as quickly as they flash, lightning-like, into my brain.

Other times (like right now), I thunk myself into my chair with a weary, "I guess I should update the blog," as the cursor blinks at me on the blank template, a mocking middle finger flashing in front of my empty head. "This recipe is... good," I start to type, my brain carb-addled and sun-tired from the holiday weekend. 

But maybe there's something to be said for a simple introduction for an easy yet delicious recipe. So here you go:

Pasta + cheese + broccoli = Creamy goodness.

Enjoy. (And happy day-late Independence Day!)

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Gouda works nicely too!)
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped

Steps:

  1. Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Once the water boils, cook the orzo according to the package directions. When 3 minutes remain, add the broccoli to the boiling water. Rinse and drain the orzo and broccoli.
  2. Return the orzo and broccoli to the hot stockpot, adding in the cheeses, butter, and 1/4 cup milk. Stir well to melt the cheese. Season to taste with salt, adding more milk if the sauce becomes too thick. Fold in the chopped tomato and serve.

Pineapple-black bean potluck salad (6 servings)

For someone who tries to use local, in-season ingredients, I sure eat a hell of a lot of pineapple. Sigh.

Pineapple and black beans are not new friends on this blog. They've snuggled together in a tortilla before, smothered in a spicy, silky sauce and topped with cheese. So when I saw this Budget Bytes recipe, which features several classic flavor combinations (Pineapple and black beans! Cilantro and pineapple! Black beans and lime!), I knew I had to try it. Its contrasting sweet and acidic flavors, plus the chewy/crunchy texture combo, make it an interesting dish, and its no-need-to-heat-me attitude make it perfect for a summertime picnic. It's also yet another meal to add to my growing list of dishes to prep on Sunday and eat for lunches throughout the week!

By the way, I want to give a quick shout-out to Whisk Carolina and Stacey Sprenz for ALL they were able to teach me about food photography in one short, interactive class. I think my pictures have already improved a lot, and I'm excited to continue trying out their techniques. Thank you again!

Pineapple-black bean potluck salad - 6 servings
(NEW!! Click here for a printable PDF!)

You will need:

Vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1 lime (3-4 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or agave, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chipotle powder to taste

Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups dry bulgur wheat
  • 1/4  cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews
  • 15-oz can pineapple tidbits
  • 15-oz can black beans
  • one tomato (optional)

Steps:

  1. Add all the vinaigrette ingredients to a bowl or jar; whisk or shake to combine. Set aside.
  2. Cook the bulgur according to package directions. (Or read instructions here.) Allow it to cool.
  3. While it's cooling, roughly chop the cilantro leaves. Toast the cashews and chop roughly once they're cool enough. Drain the pineapple and black beans and chop the tomato, if using.
  4. Once the bulgur has cooled off, transfer it to a large serving bowl, along with the cilantro, cashews, pineapple, black beans, and optional tomato. Give the vinaigrette a final mix and pour over the salad; toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

I stuck to the original recipe here, minus a few changes. First, I substituted maple syrup for the honey since the honey was the only ingredient preventing this recipe from being vegan. I also doubled the garlic powder, and I would double the cumin next time too. I added the chipotle powder for a little heat and the tomato just because I wanted to use what I had left in the fridge. I'd like to try this with another grain -- maybe farro or chewy wheat berries. I think couscous (not really a grain -- I know) would get too soggy, and quinoa's flavor might dominate the dish, but farro could be just right. I also think some sliced green onions would make a nice addition, along with chopped bell pepper (if your insides are more accommodating than mine.) Bring on the summer picnics!

The only thing that could have made this salad better was if I'd also had a spicy pineapple margarita from Calavera, my new favorite Carrboro hangout. ¡Dios mío! If you haven't tried this place yet, do yourself a favor and go. Go right now. Stop reading. Go.

Greek-inspired chickpea salad (4+ servings)

On the past couple Sundays, I've made up a big batch of something that can be stored in the fridge and warmed up for last-minute lunches during the week. One week it was a green bean and pasta salad, another week I made Mexican quinoa salad, and this week, I came up with a lower-carb version of this pasta salad. Filled with lemony brightness and hearty chickpeas, it's satisfying, healthy, and adaptable. It's another great dish to make this time of year, since the weather is warm but not much is growing just yet; in a few months, I'll be able to make it again with local produce! 

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 cups cut green beans (thawed if frozen)
  • 2-3 cups halved cherry tomatoes or chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • zest of half a lemon (or more, if you like it really lemony!)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the chickpeas and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until chickpeas start to brown. (Shaking the pan keeps the chickpeas from becoming overly comfortable in their new home and celebrating by jumping up in the air and splattering oil all over the stovetop you just cleaned an hour earlier. ...Cocky little garbanzo bastards.)
  2. Add the garlic to the pan; cook and shake the pan for another minute. Transfer chickpeas and garlic to a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the green beans and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the beans are just tender. Transfer them to the serving bowl.
  4. Add the tomatoes, mint leaves, oregano, lemon zest, and feta to the serving bowl. Toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

In hotter months (and they'll be here before we know it), this could easily be made with un-toasted chickpeas and raw green beans for a speedy meal that requires no heat from the stove!

Portobello and pineapple-teriyaki burgers (4 servings)

Tell me those aren't the sexiest tan lines you've ever seen.

"The Sound of Sunshine," by Michael Franti & Spearhead, defines the auditory and visual sensations of warmer weather -- crashing ocean waves and friends chatting on the sand as the sun beats down from above. This Whole Foods recipe, on the other hand, epitomizes the tastes of summer in the candy-like sweetness of pineapple and the toasted earthiness of mushrooms made juicy by the grill. It's like a ray of sunshine for dinner. And who doesn't need that right now? This vegan, gluten-free-optional meal takes a little while to come together because of the time needed to marinate the mushrooms and pineapple, but the cooking step is a snap. Serve these burgers with a colorful bean salad and you've got a healthy, tasty preview of the coming summer!

You will need:

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1-20 oz can pineapple rings in juice
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (use tamari or coconut aminos for the GF option)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Lettuce (optional)
  • Buns (We used toasted pretzel rolls, but you could use hamburger buns, Hawaiian sweet rolls, or gluten-free buns)

Steps:

  1. Wipe off the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel. Use a spoon to scrape out the gills; pop out the stems. Place the mushroom caps in a wide, shallow baking dish. Add the pineapple rings to the dish, reserving the juice for the next step.
  2. Next, make the marinade. Combine 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice with the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil; whisk ingredients until smooth. (I zapped the mixture in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to make the maple syrup easier to mix in.) Pour the marinade over the mushrooms and pineapple rings; cover and set aside, turning occasionally, for 1-2 hours.
  3. After the marinating time, heat a grill, grill pan, or electric griddle to medium-high and oil the grill surface. While it's heating up, remove the mushrooms and pineapple from the marinade and set aside. Transfer the marinade liquid to a microwave-safe bowl and cook for a minute or two, checking frequently, until the liquid has reduced. Alternately, boil the liquid in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it's thickened. (This will be your glaze.)
  4. Grill mushrooms and pineapple for 4-6 minutes, gently turning them once after basting with the glaze. The mushrooms won't get very grill-striped, but the pineapple rings will develop gorgeous caramel-colored ribbons as the sugars break down.
  5. Place mushrooms on buns, top with pineapple (and lettuce, if desired), and another coating of glaze.

Bring on the sunshine, please!