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.

Cajun Lentils and Barley

I got this new spice blend at amazon. It's McCormick Bajou Cajun seasoning. It tastes great on just about everything. I'm not kidding. I sprinkle it on food every chance I get. No lie. I used it to make some dirty lentils and barley the other day. So much simpler than trying to mix tons of different individual spices.

I cook the lentils and barley in vegetable stock and a teaspoon or two of soy sauce and add 2 teaspoons of the spice mix. I like to have mustard green in the mix. So I add them in too.

I like to use about 1/3 each of lentils and barley. That makes a really good sized batch.

When all the stock is gone I simply finish the cooking process with water.

When the lentils and barley and greens have cooked for about 20 minutes and are tender I add some chopped bell pepper, minced garlic and jalapeno if I have it. And more of the spice mix and a teaspon of olive oil. Cook it just a minute or two more to slightly soften the veg and bring their flavors into the mix.

Taste. Keeping in mind the flavors will strengthen with a little rest together in the fridge. Adjust with more spice blend if desired. And maybe a little ground cayenne if you've got it. That adds a nice kick and greater depth.

It's good as side dish or an entree. It makes a really nice sandwich with some fresh onion and lettuce.