Brown Basmati Rice and Black Bean Salad with Tangy Lime Dressing

It’s finally getting warmer in Brooklyn, to the point I had to switch on the A/C for a few days (Con Edison loves me). For me, when it’s warmer outside, I’d rather eat lighter meals that can be served cold. This is a nice, light lunch or dinner option. I think you can add diced pepper and corn to this salad and that would work well too. Go on and make yourself a margarita too!

  • 2 C. cooked brown basmati rice, cooled
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 C. Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 2-3 TB mayo
  • 1/4 C. lime juice
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • dash of salt/pepper
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Add all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Adjust accordingly, ie: if you want it tangier, add more lime juice, more creamy, add a bit more mayo. Note: I used bottled organic lime juice (Santa Cruz brand). It’s pure lime juice, no sugar or extra crap. I also use it to make margaritas [upcoming post!])

In a large bowl, add beans and vegetables to cooled rice. (you want to use cooled rice because you don’t want mushy tomatoes and cooked avocado, nor do you want the dressing warmed by the rice). Add dressing and mix until everything is coated. Add crumbled Bulgarian feta on top. Bam, you’re done. With this recipe, I’m pretty sure you CAN win friends with salad

Now, go do your laundry that you’ve been putting off for a few days.

Green bean, Carrot, Chickpea Salad

When I was a kid, we used to pick green beans from my grandma’s garden in MI. I liked green beans so much so, I couldn’t wait until we got in the house to wash them, that I’d just eat them straight after picking them. My brother hated green beans, and still does to this day. So, more for me! I wasn’t a fan of green bean casserole that always seemed to make an appearance at family holiday dinners. I like my beans steamed or sauted with olive oil or butter and some lemon juice. Or, I love them raw in a salad. Originally, I was just going to do an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing, but decided upon a creamy dressing of mayo, ground yellow mustard, olive oil and lemon juice (this is the same dressing from the previous recipe here This would be a great side dish any time of the year…but, it makes me think of summer because it’s fresh and crisp.

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed, washed
  • 1/2 a red onion, minced
  • 8-10 baby carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • handful of chives

Dressing

Whip together the following in a small bowl:

  • 2 TB dijon mustard (I used OrganicVille brand)
  • 2TB Mayo
  • healthy glog of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half (or a whole) a lemon

Rinse and trim the green beans, cut them in half and put them in a large bowl. Add diced red onion, cut carrots and can of chickpeas. In a separate bowl, combine dijon mustard, mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and whip together until smooth. Add dressing to veggies and stir until well-coated. Add some fresh chives too if you like.

Smoky Lentil Mushroom Soup

lentil mushroom soup

Nice and warm on a snowy February day.

I was in 70 degree and sunny temps in FL the other day…only to come back to 27 degrees and snow in NYC. So, why not make some soup? Not that soup fills the void of fresh Florida produce like tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes….Oh well. I think this soup would benefit from some homemade croutons sprinkled on top and a glass of red wine. Enjoy!

  • 2-3TB olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 package of white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2C. red wine
  • 1 carton of vegetable broth
  • 1 14oz.can of diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
  • 2 cans of lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 1 container of spinach, rinsed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoky paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

(Use a Dutch Oven or soup pot) Heat pot first, over medium heat, when pot is hot, add olive oil and then add shallots and garlic, sauté for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and yellow pepper and cook for another few minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add half cup of red wine and stir. Let the wine cook down, then add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and then the lentils and spices, stir. Then cover and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Add the spinach just before you’re about to eat and let that get wilted. Serve with crusty bread or, make some whole wheat bread croutons* and sprinkle on top of soup. Serves 4 with some leftovers.

*To make croutons: Cut two slices of whole wheat or whole grain bread into 1 inch pieces. Heat 2TB of butter in a pan, add bread and make sure the bread is coated with the melted butter. If bread isn’t coated, then add a little olive oil. Add some salt, pepper to taste.

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” Bake

It’s 61 degrees today in Brooklyn. In January. Ummm, oookaaaay. My apartment is a tad bit warm from roasting the spaghetti squash and then baking the “pasta” dish. But, hey, my dinner is done and I just need to reheat it later on this evening. I love it when a plan comes together. Also, I realized that there is a better way to cook spaghetti squash. My friend, Molly and I were just talking yesterday about struggling to cut the squash in half and how comical it was. Newsflash: pierce squash all over with a fork and cook in the microwave for 12-15 minutes, or, in a baking dish in the oven at 400 degrees for 60 minutes. SO. Much. Easier this way! Also, I used my favorite jarred Muir Glen pasta sauce because it’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little lazy.

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 the jar of pasta sauce
  • 1/2C panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2C (or more) of grated pecorino
  • Italian herb blend
  • Crushed red pepper

Let the cooked squash cool (or be a doofus and burn your hand like I did earlier), then use a spoon to scoop out the innards and seeds, discard those. Then, use a fork to scrape out the squash, add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce and stir until combined. Add mixture to an 8×8 baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs, sprinkle on top of the spaghetti squash mixture. I added a bit more pecorino romanao cheese too Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or, until the topping is browned and bit crispy.

Farro Asparagus Pesto Salad

Cold Farro Salad

I had meant to post this recipe in 2014 and didn’t notice it was hanging out in my drafts folder until just now. (Whoops). This salad can be eaten either hot or cold. It kind of reminds me of spring or summer, which is when it was originally supposed to be published. You can either make your own pesto, or use your preferred jarred brand.

  • 1C. cooked farro
  • 1/2C. cooked/roasted corn kernals
  • 1/2 bunch of steamed asparagus, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • pesto (recipe below)

For the Pesto

  • 1 bunch (or 2, if small) of basil, cleaned, patted dry
  • Handful of toasted almonds
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil (or more if necessary)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor until well blended. I omitted cheese, but, you can certainly add some grated pecorino.

Cook farro according to directions. Add sliced asparagus and corn to a large bowl, then, add cooked farro (this will steam the asparagus a bit, or, you can steam in a dish with a bit of water in the microwave until crisp tender. I like my asparagus a little crunchy, so, I just steam it with the farro). Add the amount of pesto you desire, grate some pecorino on top and serve, or, let sit and eat cold. This salad is really good the following day.