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.

The Salad Files

The simple salad trumps them all. It's a versatile combination that shouldn't be overlooked. If you think a salad is simply lettuce annd some carrot, think again. A salad can be virtually any combination of foods. Like its cousin the sandwich, a salad is an excuse to mix together foods you never normally would. The result is often a wonderful taste sensation you might have otherwise missed out on.

A romaine based salad is hearty and filling. Topped with fresh corn, red onion and diced carrots you really can't want for more. Maybe throw on some black beans. Dress with hot sauce and some white vinegar.

Rice salads are easy and have so many possibiilites. Cooked rice should be chilled before assembly. You can also use hot rice as a way to defrost frozen veg and a way to cool the hot rice. Rice based salad act much like the lettuce based variety. They love playing with onions, carrots and beans. They are wonderful dressed with lime juice and zest. Perhaps some fresh parsley and basil. Garbanzo beans play especially nice with rice salads. A little soy sauce adds a nice kick. As does some minced ginger.

Pasta salads are easy to prepare and a blank slate when it comes to additions. Pasta accepts pretty much any accourtrement quite readily. Diced tomates are lovely. As are artichokes and olives. Dress with hmmus diluted with some hot sauce or red wine vinegar.

A great way to bulk up a salad is the addition of bread. Stale or toasted old bread in the bottom of your salad bowl will soak up your dressing and  make wonderful finish to all those vegetables.

Potatoes also make an awesome salad base. There's no need for mayonaisse. Dress them in tomatos suace or vinaigrette. Fill our the salad with onions, garlic, almonds, spinach, asparagus and pinto beans.

Don't be afraid to make your own dressing. Lemon juice and olive oil. Peanut buter and soy sauce. Hummus and hot sauce. Lime juice and pickle brine.