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.

Perfect Rice

A lot of great ideas and discoveries occur accidentally. This just seems to be the nature of things. One such event happened to me today. I was cooking some rice, which is normally a pretty straightforward process. 1 part white rice to 2 parts water. Bring to a boil. Then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.

But my rice cooking was interrupted by something I simply couldn't put on hold. Little did I know then it would result in extra fluffy rice with a perfectly tender (not at all chewy) bite still intact.

The first thing you must do is toast your raw rice. It's an extra step that is well worth it. Some folks like to toast their rice in butter or oil. And that's really tasty and nice, but I just toast mine in a dry non-stick pot. It can take several minutes. Be patient. Eventually it will begin to toast and turn beige.

You don't need every grain to be toasted, but stir often and try to get most of it light tan without burning any. Be careful.. There's a fine line between toasted and burnt. Don't overdo it. You're much better off slightly less toasted than burnt.

After that you can carefully and slowly add your water. Take care, your pot is hot and the water will boil and bubble. You can also use broth instead of water. Which is quite delicious.

It's now that you'll also want to add any seasonings. 1 tsp salt. Some fresh ground black pepper. And whatever other herbage you desire. Some garlic and thyme is nice.

If you're using premade broth instead of water, don't add salt and go sparingly on other seasonings. Taste before adding and use a light hand.

Lower your heat and cover the pot and let it simmer about 10 minutes. Or until about 2/3 of the water has been absorbed and your rice is not quite done. So that it is still a little chewy when tasted.

At this point, kill the heat and put the lid back on and just walk away.

Come back in about 10 minutes and you'll have perfectly done, wonderfully fluffy rice with a pleasantly, nutty backbone.