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.

Curried Risotto Rice and Lentils

I decided to try something different and yet familiar. I wanted to do a risotto, but without arborrio. I also wanted to do a curry. So I went with a hybrid of sorts that turned out quite satisfying. If you like a little heat and a lot of spice, you'll enjoy this. Tender rice and meaty chick peas round it off.

1/3 cup lentils
1/2 cup white rice
1 can vegetable broth
1 can plain petite cut tomatoes
1 can drained, rinsed chick peas
7 cloves of garlic sliced thin
1 jalapeno pepper minced
3-4 tbls curry powder
2 tsps cumin seed
1/3 cup frozen cauliflower
juice and zest from one lemon
olive oil

In a large chicken fryer type saute pan heat lentils, cumin seed and broth until it just begins to come to a boil. Add 2 tbls curry powder and rice. Stir often, simmering over medium heat. Keep covered when not stirring.

Let rice and lentil mixture simmer in liquid until mostly absorbed. Add can of tomatoes juice and all. Continue stirring and simmering and letting the rice and beans absorb the liquid.

When that has also been absobred add 1/2 cup water. chick peas and 1 tbl more of curry powder. Continue stirring and cooking until most of the liquid is gone. Taste to determine doneness of lentils and rice.

When they are just on the verge of being done add olive oil, garlic, lmeon zest/juice and jalapeno. And more curry powder if desired. Stirring and cooking at least 3 minutes more. Adding more water in 1/4 cup incrememnts as needed.

Once finished cooking turn off heat and add cauliflower to hot pot, stir, cover and let sit at least 5 minutes more or until the veg is warmed through.

Serve with pan sauted potato chunks and fresh crostini for sopping up the sauce.