Spontaneity, Black Beans & Bliss

I originally intended to write about salad dressings for this week’s post. They are one of my specialties – balsamic , citrus, tarragon and rosemary-infused.  And I will write more about various varieties in the not-too-distant future. But I started cooking this past week in anticipation of this blog post and I got a little off track… I began with one of my favorite salad dressings – Lime, Pepita & Cilantro. It’s something I concocted a few years ago and I love its tangy, highly flavored punch. So I whipped up a batch to toss onto thinly sliced cabbage, as I usually do. Then I got to thinking…

I used to pair this Mexican-influenced slaw with grilled halibut for zesty soft tacos. And that is still a delicious pairing. But I’m a vegetarian today so thought I’d heat up some black beans. Then I had a crazy idea. Why not make them from scratch? Something I had never done. Too much trouble, I had thought. How very, very wrong I was! Sure, it takes some forethought. But I’m a meal planner, after all.

So I soaked the beans according to the package – choosing the “quick soak” method because I am, at my core, impatient. Following a quick boil and an hour-long soak I drained and rinsed them and returned them to medium heat with some fresh water and let them simmer for a few hours while I went about my day. When they started to soften I added a small can of diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of cumin along with a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. The cooking continued and what resulted was a pot of black beans with an earthy aroma, a soft bite and a taste so far superior to canned beans that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back. I made the entire bag and was able to freeze half so I have some waiting in my freezer for another day. Bliss.

Once the beans were done I slathered them on a tortilla and topped it with my cabbage, carrot and onion slaw mixture (see recipe below) and a dusting of crumbled cotija cheese (jack cheese would do just as well) and sat down to a healthy, fresh and terribly inexpensive meal.

What I love about how this transpired is that it wasn’t planned. Amazing things can happen in your kitchen if you follow your instincts and listen to your stomach and feel empowered to try new things. What resulted for me this week is a new, favorite dish.  Something I will prepare again and again. I hope you will try it. Or at least let yourself go to explore new possibilities and expand your culinary horizons.  ¡Buen apetito!

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 Tri-Colored Slaw with Lime, Pepita & Cilantro Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pepitas – AKA pumpkin seeds (roasted and salted)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Zest and juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

Combine the garlic and pepitas in a blender or Cuisinart or the bowl section of a submersion blender. (A quick note about these tools – they are indispensible. I use them for blending dressing, chopping nuts and garlic, blending hot soups, whisking sauces. The uses are endless. A great investment, in my opinion. If you’re not familiar with these amazing utensils – read more at this link.)

Once the garlic and pepitas have formed a paste, add the water, lime juice and zest and honey. Mix until well blended. Add half the cilantro and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Mix the dressing with the cabbages, carrots, onion and remaining cilantro. It’s best to let this mixture sit for about a half hour before serving.

As noted, serve alongside any kind of soft taco you like. Or it can be served as a separate salad. The dressing can also be used to make a salad entrée – served over lettuce, corn, red peppers, and whatever protein you prefer.

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One Response to “Spontaneity, Black Beans & Bliss”

  1. bed frames says:

    The salad looks so new and refreshing to me! Nice thing that you shared it with us!

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