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.

Red Robin Veggie and Regular Burger

Red Robin opened in my hometown just recently. Actually, it opened in the beginning of February, but their website said it was still coming soon. But I was nearby and decided to check and see if it had opened yet. It had. I was only a month behind.

Had been eagerly awaiting this. I am always eager to sample new veggie burgers. I love a good veggie burger. And I know it's a much bigger achievement than a good regular burger.

Their website boasts that you can customize your burger any way that you want. However, when you get to the restaurant, the actual menu doesn't really provide any way to do so. There's no list of toppings from which to choose. I found myself scanning the various 'gourmet burgers' trying to figure out what add ons were available. What I needed desperately was a list of things I can add or subtract from my 'burger', like they have on their website.

The DGB burger looked good. With arugula, roasted tomatoes and spicy aioli. So I got that, but with a non dead animal patty.

I want to stress that our server was congenial and helpful and all around good at her job. This is not a critique of her. She was tipped handsomely.

My faux burger was drenched in olive oil. It literally oozed a pool of it onto my plate. The arugula had no flavor. The aoili was mainly mayo. On the plus side, the southwest black beans were fabulously spicy. The garlic fries were extremely salty, but really good. But all that grease, I found myself wishing there was a baked potato option.

The veggie patty itself, which is a boca burger, which I've had before, was fine. Nothing special. The Ruby Tuesday veggie patty still holds my top spot. It impresses me both with flavor and texture. It's something I actually crave.

My dining companion had a black and bleu burger sans the bleu. Well done. Ugh. I know. I mostly shun meat, but if you're going to eat it, do it right.

I tried it to see. It was soooo dry. I understand well done can be dry. I've eaten many well done burgers in a large assortment of restaurants, but I've never had a burger quite this dry before. It crumbled in my mouth like stale cheerios.

After only a month, I understand there can be some growing pains. I'll probably give them another shot. But overall, I was thoroughly unimpressed.