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.

Sweet and Spicy Celery Chipotle Puree

Celery leaves are one of those ingredients that people often overlook and/or discard. But celery leaves actually deserve our respect. They pack a lot of flavor for not a lot of money. They're similar to parsley, but with a brighter, stronger flavor. They truly are the cinderella of herbs and they should definitely be invited to your next prince's ball.

I pride myself on using common every day ingredients that are inexpensive to create flavors that taste like a million bucks. Celery leaves are an easy way to accomplish that. None of the components of this puree are unusual or wildly expensive. Sriracha can be pricey. I got a big bottle at Aldi for $1.99, so shop around. Chipotles can seem expensive at first glance at $1.79 for that tiny can. It goes pretty far though. I easily get 3-5 servings out of it and I like things spicy.

This awesome puree is vegetarian, but can easily be vegan as well if you sub regular mayo for veganaise. This bright orange puree looks as good as it tastes. Dress salads, veggies, pasta, rice, sandwiches or anything with it. It's a little spicy, a little sweet and a little creamy. It's really easy to whip up in minutes, but has flavor for days, Give it a try... you'll be glad that you did.

1 cup diced celery (half of it the leaves)
3-4 slices sweet yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
zest and juice from one large lime
1/4 cup pickle juice
1-2 chipotles and 2-4 tsps adobo sauce
2-3 tbls sriracha sauce
2 tsps mayo
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp each salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and thoroughly combine until smooth.

Adjust the heat to taste using more or less of the chipotle and sriracha.

Use immediately or store in fridge and use as desired. With its bright orange hue, it's as pretty as it is delicious.