Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Summer Lentil Risotto (Vegan)

This is a summery salad style dish that works equally well cold as it does warm. While it's not actually risotto, I call it risotto because it mimics the texture and creamy sauciness of real risotto. Just give it a try. You'll see what I mean.

It also happens to be super cheap and very easy to make.

Ingredients
1/3 cup dry lentils
1/3 cup dry pearl barley
1/4 cup dry white wine (cheap is fine $8-12 per bottle)
1 can petite cut diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen mustard greens
5 cloves roughly chopped garlic
3 tbl smart balance light with olive oil
2 tsp montreal chicken seasoning
1 tsp cornstarch
1-1 1/2 cups water

I like to begin by cooking my barley. I like to cook it a little longer than I do my lentils. Bring barley and water to a boil and then simmer covered for 3 minutes. Add lentils and 1 tsp montreal seasoning. Continue to simmer until only a little water remains. Add mustard greens and wine. Cook until that has gone. Add tomato. Continue cooking uncovered for 3 more minutes.

Taste. Add more water if needed. Lentils and barley should be tender.

Add garlic, smart balance and remaining tsp of montreal seasoning. Heat 1 minute more. Add cornstarch. Warm 2-3 more minutes. Until the liquid has slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Eat immediately as a hot mock risotto lentil and barley stew/soup. or let chill in the fridge at least four hours for a cooling summer lentil, barley and tomato salad.

The smart balance adds a creamy texture and vitamin b12. the wine creates a depth of flavor that would otherwise be lacking. The cornstarch helps to thicken the tomato/wine/water mixture giving your lentils a viscous sauce to swim in.

Although it's called montreal chicken seasoning it doesn't contain chicken or any other animals. It's just spices and herbs.

You can even eat it as a sandwich. I made a thin layer of mashed potatoes with peas and carrots and then a thicker layer of the lentil barley risotto mix. It was delish.