It's a scorching week of weather this week, and this entree salad makes a satisfying and versatile dish that's perfect for when the temperature soars. Or for when it doesn't.
Come to think of it, it's great just about any old time.
To give you an idea about its versatility:
- It can be vegetarian, as described here, but is also very nice with a couple of cups of cut up chicken;
- It can be made with pasta, with rice, or simply served with tortilla chips. That means that for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it can easily be made gluten free;
- You can use the dressing recipe here, or any of your own favorite dressings with some added hot sauce, pepper, and chili powder;
- You can use your own salsa, some cheap jarred salsa, or simply some canned, diced tomatoes;
- It can be served hot, chilled or at room temperature;
- It can be served as a family meal with enough leftovers for a future dinner or two and some lunches during the week, but it’s also great as a party side dish;
- And it can also be used to fill pita bread or a wrap, along with some greens, to make a very nice alternative to the usual sandwich options;
As I already mentioned, it can be served any time of year, but I usually make it in the summertime when I don’t feel like cooking much. In fact, if you have cooked rice or pasta on hand, it requires no cooking at all and is ready in about 15 minutes.
This is a perfect example of how a little planning ahead with your menus can save time and energy by making use of the same ingredients in a given week, such as brown rice or pasta.
If you have to cook them for one recipe, try to find another recipe where you can use them again later that week. It'll save you having to stand over a hot stove any more than you need to.
This recipe makes 10-12 servings. The total cost of the recipe is about $7-10, depending on what type of tomato product you use. With tossed green salad and a nice, whole-grain bread, the cost comes to less than $1.50 per person.
Here's the recipe:
Makes 10-12 servings (can be halved)
Prep time - approximately 15 minutes
Total start to finish meal time - 15 minutes - 30 minutes
(depending on whether you need to cook pasta)
Total recipe cost - approximately $10
Total per person meal cost with bread and leafy salad - approximately $1.50
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, OR
2 cups salsa, homemade or store-bought
1 15-16-ounce can black beans
1 15-16-ounce can kidney or red beans (or bean variety of your choice)
1-2 cups cooked rice
1 cup small uncooked pasta (elbows, bow ties, rotini, etc.)
2 cups cooked, small pasta (approximately)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 15-16 ounce can black olives
1 medium onion
1 red or green bell pepper
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
⅓ cup olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 lemon to make 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of store-bought lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ - ½ teaspoon hot sauce (to taste)
½ teaspoon salt
Recipe continues after photos
- If you are using uncooked pasta, then cook the 1 cup of pasta in 4 cups of water in a medium covered pot until firm tender (al dente). Drain the pasta, rinse it under cool water and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, open the 2 cans of black and kidney beans (or beans of your choice) into a colander rinse and drain. Put them in a large mixing bowl to which you will add all the other ingredients.
- Pour the 2 cups of diced tomatoes, or jarred or homemade salsa into the bowl with the beans.
- Add the 1-2 cups of frozen or thawed corn to the beans.
- Peel and dice the medium onion and add it to the beans.
- Wash and dice the red or green bell pepper and add it to the beans.
- Open, drain and slice the 15-16 ounce can of olives to make about ¾ of a cup. Add them to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
- Add the 2 cups of cooked rice or pasta (whichever one you are using).
- The salad may be stored, covered and undressed, in the refrigerator for up to several days. It can be served room temperature, hot, or chilled.
- Just before serving, dress only the amount of salad you think you will be eating at each sitting, and mix it very well.
- Serve the bean pasta salad with a whole grain bread or tortilla chips and a tossed salad.
- Peel and chop or mince the 5 cloves of garlic and put it into a small bowl or glass or dressing container, or simply measure out the garlic powder.
- Roll the lemon firmly on a hard surface. Wash it and cut it in half crosswise. Squeeze it by hand or with the help of a juicer, straining out any seeds, until you have 2 tablespoons of the juice. Add it to the container with the garlic. Or simply measure out 2 tablespoons of juice.
- Add the oil, vinegar, chili powder, black pepper, hot sauce, and salt (⅓ cup olive or canola oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon dried cilantro, 1 tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ - ½ teaspoon hot sauce (to taste), and ½ teaspoon salt) and blend everything briskly with a fork or whisk.
- Set aside until ready to use just before meal time.