Black Bean, Pineapple & Avocado Salad

I’ve been obsessed with black beans and pineapple lately. In the past couple of weeks we have had friends over a couple times, and both times I have made a delicious pineapple & black bean guacamole. Unfortunately I haven’t taken pictures either time, but I will make it again and get it on the blog soon! Another great pinterest find.

Since I found that recipe, I have been putting pineapple and black beans together more often. Since Ric is at work it’s just me for lunch today. I wanted something easy, so this is what I came up with. I don’t usually make a lot of salads, mainly because I think a really great salad has a lot of ingredients that I don’t usually have in the house or am too lazy to prepare. I love going to salad bars and having all kinds of things already chopped up and laid out before me. Those salads, I love. But the thought of doing all that prep work myself — bleh. No, thanks.

Fortunately this salad was easy to throw together, and I had everything I needed. It made for a big salad that filled me up. Exactly what I needed after splurging on pancakes for breakfast.

Black Bean, Pineapple, and Avocado Salad (1 Serving)
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 medium avocado, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (put in as much as you want!)
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tbsp shredded cheese of your choice
Lettuce
A squeeze of lime juice
Dash of cumin

Toss everything together, and you’re done! What could be easier?

On another note, for anyone doing Weight Watchers, I have been doing it online for the past couple of months and it works great for me. I’ve found that I really need structure in all areas of my life — meals included. WW helps give me that structure, keep track of my eating, and make much healthier choices. All of that to say, I will now try to include the WW points plus value to my recipes. This filling salad is only 4 points! Hurrah!

I enjoyed mine with some fresh pineapple and watermelon.

Portobello Caprese Salad

Ric and I have spent the last couple of weeks getting settled in our new apartment. We are now officially residents of the northwest suburbs, which is kind of weird. It’s so different from the city. Sidewalks are a rare sight, which makes walking anywhere difficult. And Ric was used to biking to work every day, which is now much more difficult. These roads were not made to accommodate bikers. But, there are some lovely aspects of the ‘burbs as well.

1. It’s quiet. Like, really quiet. In the city, we would hear ambulances/police/fire trucks about every 5 minutes. I think maybe I’ve heard one in the two weeks we’ve lived here. It’s awesome.

2. We live right next to a big forest preserve, which is beautiful. Yesterday we biked about 6 miles of it, and it was so nice. I often felt claustrophobic in the city… I just need some nature in my life. And now I have it, right across the street.

3. We have a balcony at our new place, which we both love. It’s so nice to sit out there, and read or eat and enjoy the sunshine. One of the things we both really want one day is a garden, and while that’s not quite possible here, we made our own little garden with a balcony planter.

Isn’t it pretty? These little flowers make me so happy every time I look at them. In addition to the two kinds of flowers you see, we also planted basil, rosemary, cilantro, mint, and oregano. Yay! Our little basil plant is thriving.

I love basil so much. I could use it in everything. One of my favorite summer recipes is caprese salad: tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic.

Yesterday Ric and I went to the farmers market and stocked up on tons of fresh veggies and fruits. We had some tomatoes and portobello mushrooms, so I decided to make a caprese salad with a twist. I give you portobello caprese salad. You’re welcome.

Ingredients:
Portobello mushrooms (small-medium size, 1 for each person)
Tomato, sliced
Fresh mozzarella (I can’t stress the importance of fresh enough, it makes a world of difference)
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350°, then get your mushrooms cleaned. Run them under the faucet making sure to clean off any dirt.

Now cut off the stems, take a spoon and scrape out the gills. You can skip this step if you want, but I would recommend it. Sometimes there might be dirt hiding in the gills, and you don’t want your salad to be gritty.  This is a pretty quick and easy step.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on both sides of the mushrooms. Place them on a pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. I pulled the sides of the foil up over the mushrooms to make a little tent so they didn’t get burnt.

Once your mushrooms are done, put a slice of tomato on each, a fat slice of mozzarella, a sprig of basil, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy this yummy summertime treat!

Black Bean, Tomato, and Feta Pasta Salad

Yeahhh… so, this is kind of a summer recipe.

Turns out, it’s not summer. But I wouldn’t know that judging by the weather the last couple of weeks. Last week was beautiful — in the 80s and sunny almost every day. Only now has the temperature gone back to normal spring temperatures. Boo. I was getting used to the no coat thing.

Well, last week being what it was, I was feeling a little inspired to make some summery-feeling recipes. We didn’t get to this one ’til tonight, when, alas, the hot weather is long gone. But it still tasted delish. I got this recipe from a friend a few years ago, and it has proven to be a summertime favorite. The beans and tomato combined with the spices, citrus, and heat of the tabasco sauce give this salad a kick.

This is such a simple recipe. The only annoying part is seeding and dicing all the tomatoes. But once you get through that, there’s really not much prep work at all.

Black Bean, Tomato, and Feta Pasta Salad
1/3 cup olive oil
2-4 large garlic cloves, minced (the more, the merrier… or garlicky-er)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed well
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced (I prefer roma tomatoes)
Grated zest of 2 limes (Or a splash of lemon or lime juice)
2-3 teaspoons tabasco sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
——————————
16 oz. bowtie or wagon wheel pasta
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all of the ingredients above the dotted line in a large bowl and set aside to warm to room temperature.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and combine with other ingredients in the bowl. Add cilantro and feta cheese, mixing well so everything is evenly coated.

I suggest pairing this with a margarita, or some other fun, summery drink. You can pretend it’s summer, while the springtime weather catches up with you. Slowly but surely. Hopefully we’ll get some more warm weather again soon. Enjoy!

One last summer salad

Well, it looks like fall is here after all in the Windy City. On Monday it was 85 and sunny. Today is 62 and cloudy. I love fall! I love the crunchy leaves on the sidewalk, a chill in the air, and most of all soup! I love making soup in the fall. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. More on fall soup recipes another day.

I had most of the ingredients on hand to make one last summery salad. This was my faaaavorite salad this summer. Oh my goodness, so flavorful and so simple. I made it for parties, cookouts, and potlucks and everyone loved it! Everyone. Really. I first discovered it on a friend’s tumblr, but I recently found the source of the recipe on Pinterest.

Side note – can we talk about how much I love Pinterest? I could spend hours scrolling through everybody’s pins (especially the food. Drool.) Want to be my Pinterest friend? You can find me here.

OK, anyway – a friend pinned this recipe, so I was able to find the original source of this tasty dish. It came from Jehan Can Cook. Thank you Jehan!

I modified the recipe just a bit.

Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in halves. (I prefer heirloom tomatoes)
2 ripe avocados, roughly chopped
3-4 ears fresh sweet corn OR one bag frozen corn (of course, it’s way better with fresh corn!)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing
Juice of 1 lime (Lemon juice is fine, too. I’ve got a big bottle of it in the fridge, so that’s usually what I use)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (the original calls for 1 clove, but hey, garlic is awesome. go crazy)
Ground pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper

As you can see, I’m doing the lazy version of the recipe, and using frozen fire roasted corn from Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fresh corn. Also, I didn’t have cilantro. It’s still good without it, but the cilantro adds the perfect flavor to the recipe, so I would definitely recommend using it.

If you’re using fresh corn, you can grill it as the original recipe calls for, or if you’re like me and don’t own a grill, boiling is fine. If you’re using frozen corn and making the recipe a few hours before it will be eaten, you can just throw the corn as is in the bowl, and it will defrost on its own.

If you’ve got fresh corn, after grilling or boiling, cut the corn off the cob and set aside to cool.

Add all of the ingredients for dressing in a bowl, and whisk to combine.

Mmmmm, can’t you just smell the garlic? (If you’re wondering what the floaty things are – that’s the garlic skins. I pull them out of the garlic press after I use it and throw them in. I don’t like to waste food.)

Now add your tomatoes…

Look at all those pretty tomatoes! …. After you’ve admired your tomatoes, you can add the avocado, corn, and cilantro! Mix gently, making sure not to smush your avocado. You can throw it in the fridge for an hour if you want to serve it chilled, but I think it tastes great, warm corn and all.

Voila! This recipe will serve 6-8.

Enjoy this one… because it’s going to be a long time until summer comes around again.