I know it's not summer yet, but as warmer weather approaches I start thinking about fresh tasting meals that are more refreshing than savory, include a lot of produce, and limit oven time.
I especially love one bowl wonders that travel well to picnics or store for a week in the fridge, providing me with plenty of lunch and snacktime fodder. Potato salads, pasta salads, and bean salads are great. Chop fresh produce, combine it with your favorite dressing (better yet make your own), add fresh herbs from the garden, and you've got a side dish or maybe even a meal. They are fun opportunities for creativity and flexibility.
I love going through the grocery store aisle, grabbing whatever produce catches my eye, and chopping it and throwing it in a bowl with something substantial to make it a meal.
Lots of Produce + Dressing + Starch = One Bowl Awesome Summer Mealness
Tonight I made a fun mango bean salad inspired by something I saw on television. We had it with feta stuffed tomatoes, toasted rye bread with fig jam, and slice cucumber and salami. Ecclectic, but tasty and fun!
Mango & Bean Salad:
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 bag of frozen mango, thawed
1 chopped orange bell pepper
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 T dried tarragon (we have it in the house, substitute any favorite herb if you don't)
1/8 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
dash of black pepper
Combine the white vinegar, olive oil, pepper and about 1/4 cup of the mango chunks and blend with an immersion blender. Mix dressing together the rest of the ingredients in a bowl that has a lid so you can store leftovers.
It was tasty, very healthy, had enough protein and fiber to be filling, and it's totally adaptable. Add cucumbers, raw green beans, or red onion. Spice it up with some dried red pepper flakes, whatever you like. Based on how much we both enjoyed it and how easy and healthy it was, I'm sure I'll be making variations in the future.
I also hope to be doing more with my immersion blender, because the mango tarragon dressing turned out great in seconds! With frozen fruit, it would be pretty easy to make a blueberry or raspberry vinaigrette for a fabulous summer salad. I plan to try it soon!