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.

Freshness and Edibility

I recently got to learn about how long food really lasts without refrigeration. Thanks to hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter that quickly followed many foods came into question. I've always been of the mindset that manufacturers purposely indicate short shelf lives and low room temperature tolerances. They are covering their own asses in case of the slightest glitch.

I had some open mt olive pickles. I ate a few after several days without electricity. They were still great. Isn't that precisely what pickling was invented for... to preserve foods that would otherwise spoil without chillage. After more than a week they did get funky and I was forced to discard them. But they were good for about 5 days in the unchilled fridge.

We had many bags of frozen vegetables. Broccoli, mustard greens, peas, corn, cauliflower and carrots. They all fared very well. When my brother's power came back on after 4 days we transferred them to his freezer. Everything survived except the baby carrots. I've been eating the veggies for a while now without any incident. The bags all say to keep frozen, but I can't see any difference is taste or texture. They haven't made me ill in the least.

I was quite surprised by our freezer's capacity to stay cool. We had kept it at 0 degrees F as was the default setting. I used it to keep my beer cold for two full nights of blackout conditions. And it did quite a nice job. They were quite frosty. It may have even kept the brews cold for a third night. I'll never know, as we ran off to some place with power.

I had a container of canned black beans in there that lasted 2 weeks. No issues at all. Tasted as good as the first day I opened them. Behold the power of salt.

We did have some plain pasta that went moldy. So it's not like everything is immune. Starches are especially susceptible to mold. But you're crazy if you just take the indications on the packages as law. Those companies have teams of lawyers and millions of dollars at stake. They are overly cautious.

In the real world, vegetables don't need to be frozen and pickles are pickled for a reason. And beans are your best friend. Just steer clear of the milk products and you should be okay.