Last-Minute Bean and Corn Salad Recipe

Bobbie says:

Have you ever been almost, but not quite, ready to serve dinner when a giant light bulb goes on over your head (so brightly that everyone in the room gets an instant tan) because you suddenly realized that all you actually have prepared for dinner is grilled chicken and potatoes? Or burgers on buns? Or…whatever and NOTHING ELSE? If you’ve never forgotten to plan (and actually prepare) side dishes, you are officially Better Than Me. If you have, then Last-Minute Bean and Corn Salad is a side dish you should keep up your sleeve. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

Four salad ingredients get tossed in a bowl with four quick dressing elements, et voila! You’ve got mail salad.  And if you’re the one who never forgets anything — Hi there! I’ve always wondered if you really existed or if you were just an urban legend. Don’t you forget to try this salad, too, because it’s even better if you plan ahead and have the exact ingredients you want and don’t have to wing it with what’s on hand.

total brag photo - I took this picture and loved it and just wanted to show it off

Last Minute Bean and Corn Salad is a very flexible recipe. If you don’t have black beans, use pintos, chickpeas, kidney beans, or whatever you have on hand. Use any color bell pepper you wish – I’ve often used a combination of red and green.  The flexibility also goes for the onion – use your preference or what you have on hand. While I used scallions for the photos, I’ve also prepared Bean and Corn Salad with chopped onion – either red or a sweet onion would be good choices. (I’ve even used celery when I was out of peppers. Also, the onions can just totally be left out if you don’t have any, and it’s still very good. And one less item to prep if you’re crunched for time!)

My sister recently told me that Bean and Corn salad is also great served with chips, as you would use a salsa. She was right. If you are intending to use it as a salsa, you’ll want to finely chop the peppers and onions and use black beans or another variety on the smallish side.

 

Last-Minute Bean and Corn Salad Recipe

  • 15 oz can black beans (or your choice)
  • 12 oz can whole corn
  • 1 bell pepper (any color, or combination)
  • 3 scallions or 1 medium onion, either red or a sweet variety
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (lemon can be used, but I prefer lime)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce

 

Open the can of beans and dump it into a colander. Rinse the beans thoroughly then drain well. Dump those into your serving bowl. Open and drain the corn and add it to the bowl.

Clean the pepper and coarsely chop it into about ¼ inch pieces.

Slice the scallions, including the green tops. If using red or sweet onions, chop into pices about ¼ inch in size.

Sprinkle the cumin over all, then measure the lime juice, oil and soy sauce right into the serving bowl.

Using a large serving spoon, gently mix to coat the salad lightly with the dressing.

That’s it!  If you do what I have done in occasional moments of ” Determined To Be Organized and Prepared” and actually had containers of chopped onions and peppers in the fridge this could be an almost-instant salad.

Refrigerate leftovers immediately and use within 2 days.

 

 

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Bran says:

I thought I hated brussels sprouts.
I think a lot of us have felt that way.

After all, to many people, the boiled things that get served up to us as children, sodden and vaguely buttered, are not exactly the most appetising of vegetables. But brussels sprouts can be a great winter green, a nice seasonal change from kale or cabbage.

When my genius-of-a-gluten-free-baker and star-of-a-cook friend Brooke pointed to the stove several years ago and said, “Brussels sprouts. Eat them,” I shot a terrified look at my friend Mary next to me. She nodded, as if to say, “No, really. Eat them.” So I reluctantly did, and the reluctance fell away with the first bite. Man, were they not the same vegetable I remembered from my childhood. They were soft and crisp and salty and vaguely sweet and fantastic.

I remembered those sprouts years later when I had to pick a dish for Thanksgiving. I surfed the web, read about ten recipes for oven-roasted brussels sprouts, and made up my own on the fly. I pulled them out of the oven and my friends crowded around the tray, staring, saying with surprise, “Those look… good.”

They didn’t survive until dinner. They barely even survived until they were cool. In hindsight, I really should have made more. After all, these things are little caramelised beauties covered in olive oil and salt and garlic.

They’re incredibly easy to make.

Brussels Sprouts

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Here’s a printable grocery list for your convenience.

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
> 1Tb vegetable oil (olive, sunflower, almost whatever suits you)
≥ 1 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, or to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

raw sprout

When choosing sprouts for this dish, try to find ones that are relatively small, and preferably a nice dark or medium green. If they look pale and yellow in the store, or big (1.5″ or bigger), you’re results aren’t going to be as spectacular, and they might take a bit more work, but they’re still useable.

So. You get them home and are ready to start preparing them. First, you’re going to want to take off the first couple of layers of leaves from the sprouts. There are three reasons for this: They come from the ground (amazing!) before they get to the shop, so they’re bound to be a bit dirty, and stripping the outer layer will help ease the cleaning. Also, I find that often the outermost leaves are a bit limp from the cold and the damp of the vegetable section, so getting rid of them first off helps with that as well. Thirdly, the best part about this dish is the juxtaposition of the soft, almost artichoke-like inside and the crispy leaves outside, so if there are too many leaves outside the balance is, well, less awesome than it could be.

I’ve found the easiest thing to do to start the defoliation is to cut about 1/4 to 1/2 inch off from the end of the stem, depending on whether the sprout is small or large. That will let you be able to more easily peel off the first layer, at least. Take a look at the sprout, and if you see spots or soil or insect holes, peel those leaves off, too. When you’re finished you should have a paler-green, clean-looking sprout. Set it aside and repeat that with all the rest of them.

I find that I still like to wash the sprouts after they’ve been stripped down a bit, but your mileage may vary depending on how picky you are when you defoliated them. I run warm water over all of them and leave ‘em to drain in a colander for a few minutes.

washed sprouts

Next, take a sturdy knife and cut them in half longitudinally. You want to get them to be vaguely the same mass, so if your container of sprouts has a mix of small ones and big ones, cut those larger ones into quarters. This way they’ll all cook more evenly.

sprout bisected

Et voila!

After that, you have garlic-based decisions to make. I like my garlic softer, so I peel and cut my cloves into large chucks, perhaps into quarters or eighths. This means not every bite of sprout will have garlic, but the garlic I do have is somewhere between soft and chewy. However, I know some people like their garlic to get everywhere, so if you’re one of those people mince your garlic finely. Bear in mind, however, that if you do that you won’t be able to roast the sprouts for as long before the garlic burns, so your end result won’t be as caramelised. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out! It’s entirely up to you.

(Edited to add: The easiest way not to have to worry so much about over-cooking the garlic is just to add it in after the sprouts have been cooking 10-15 minutes. Then, you won’t have to worry so much about the garlic getting too crunchy. Just make sure if you do add it in later, it’s well-coated in oil.)

prepped sprouts

Toss the sprouts and the garlic into a medium-large bowl, and pour over them your oil and your salt. I personally like a mix of about half sunflower oil and half olive oil, an overflowing, sloppy, half-tablespoon of each, but as far as I have noticed combinations of olive, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils have all worked out fine. And please use kosher salt or some other large-grind salt; any small particles of salt crystal that remain after most of it dissolves in the cooking process will contribute to the finished texture.

Mix that mess up with a spoon or your clean hand, making sure every sprout and all your garlic is covered in salt and oil. (Mmm. Salt and oil.)

Cover a baking sheet or roasting pan in either parchment paper or aluminium foil (it makes a negligible difference in the cooking process, but my preference is the aluminium foil). Spread the sprouts out over it, cut side down, leaving a bit of space in-between each one. Roast the sprouts in the oven until the tops caramelise to a dark brown. (Or, if you’re like me, even darker.) This takes me somewhere around 45 minutes, but you’ll be able to tell when they’re done. If the tops haven’t turned a chocolate-coloured brown yet, they’re not done. If they’re black, take ‘em the heck out. If it stops smelling good and starts to smell like garlic burning, take ‘em out. You’ve got a fair amount of leeway here, and they’re pretty forgiving.

They lose heat pretty fast, so it’s a good thing they’re good at room temp. If you can wait that long. I can’t; the last photo is missing four or so that I scarfed as I was putting them in the bowl and setting up the picture. Oops.

This recipe serves, well…maybe two adults? Something like that. I usually eat them by myself as a snack. (They’re like potato chips! But green!) They can be refrigerated, although they lose their crispiness, but they still taste great. I’ve also quadrupled the recipe with no issues, so feel free to make extra. Most of all, enjoy!

Bran needs a bio. Bran can be found making amazing things at Mydwynter Studios.

Submitted to Tasty Tuesdays at Beauty and Bedlam.

Collard Greens, Vegetarian Style

Heather says:

These collards have a kick! They are peppery and wonderful, something I never thought would be possible without sausage or bacon, but as of last night I know it can be done. This recipe is adapted from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, a birthday gift from last year. Their version is called Sneaky Collards and is written for fresh greens. Some occasions, such as  New Years or on a chilly afternoon with chicken bog already working, I’m quite willing to wrestle with fresh collards. Other days, busier days, I quite happily use frozen. That’s sacrilege to some, but hang tight and see what happens before turning up your nose.

This recipe yields 8 – 10 servings, leftovers would be absolutely amazing stirred into a soup near the end of cooking or added to a pot of beans and rice. Well, if you have any leftovers that is. . .

vegetarian collards

  • 2 lbs frozen collard greens
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 TBSP crushed red pepper (I cut it in half from my experiment)
  • 1 tsp salt + more to taste at the end
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 cloves of garlic, still in the papery peel (added to make up for the reduction in pepper)
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Kitchen equipment needed:

  • stove
  • 1 heavy pot
  • 1 heavy skillet or baking sheet
  • oven / broiler
  • blender or stick/immersion blender
  • knife / cutting board

In a large pot, heat the water, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring it to a boil, then turn it to low.  Cover and ignore for 10 minutes or so, this isn’t a recipe where exacts matter.  The point of this step is to draw out some of the oils from the pepper.

Cut both ends off the onion, peel it, and cut it into quarters or eighths depending on its size.  Core the tomato and again cut it into quarters or eighths.  How do you know which? If it fits comfortably into the palm of your hand, go with quarters, larger eighths.  Now, the next step depends on your coordination / comfort level and whether you wish to wash a bowl or mop the floor. If you are new to the cooking scene, place the onion, tomato, and garlic cloves in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Then, sprinkle with the paprika and ground pepper. Stir to coat, then pour into an oven proof skillet or onto a baking sheet.

If you’re comfortable with your skill level, toss everything in an oven proof skillet. Toss to coat.

Now the comes the magic moment. Turn your broiler to high and place the vegetables about 3″ from the heat source. This is typically the highest rack setting of your oven.

Set a timer for 6 minutes. Take a peek after five minutes.

Not quiteIf it looks like this, you’re getting close, but it needs to go a few more minutes.

When using this technique, it is very important to remember that dark brown equals intense flavor, but black is burnt. Watch your vegetables carefully, it’s totally worth the attention to detail.

collard greensWhile the tomatoes are broiling, add the collards to the peppery water. Bring it back up to a simmer and cover. This needs to cook for at least 20 minutes, but it can go much longer without ruining the greens.

doneWhen the tomatoes, onions, and garlic are done. Set the skillet aside until the garlic is cool enough to handle. The cloves should slip right out of their paper, discard the paper. Place the garlic cloves and everything else from the skillet into the blender, be sure to catch as much of the liquid as you can, it carries a lot of flavor. Puree the broiled vegetables until smooth.

Once the collards have cooked for at least twenty minutes, add the puree and stir.

Serve when the rest of the meal is ready.

Enjoy.

Submitted to:

What I Learned This Week

Lentil Casserole

Heather says:

This lentil casserole recipe is light on the budget, simple, and filling.

lentilcasserole.jpg

  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced or pressed
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 carrots – chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 green bell pepper (or two if the red is omitted)
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tsp vinegar

In a lidded sauce pan heat the lentils and water over medium heat for ten minutes, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.  The lentils should absorb most of the water.  Stir occasionally

lentilcasserole3.jpgWhile the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the onion until soft, add the celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, the carrot should be beginning to soften.  Stir in the basil, soy sauce, and vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 9 pan.

Stir the lentils into the vegetables with a fork, as you want the lentils be somewhat mashed.  Stir in the oats.  Press into the pan and bake 20 – 25 minutes and firmly set.

lentilcasserole2.jpgLet the casserole stand for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.