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.

Spicy Pinto Bean Vegan Meatballs and Mexican Tomato Dipping Sauce

Just wanted to see if I could make a decent vegan 'meatball'. Turned out pretty good. I was inspired by the show I've been watching lately, Masterchef UK Professionals. They used white bread to thicken a gazpacho. I thought to myself that maybe it could also do the trick for binding pureed beans. And besides, I had some left over bread to use up.

Why balls? I thought they'd look nice.

Meatball Ingredients
1 can pinto beans, lightly rinsed
1 piece of white bread torn into chunks
1/4 cup rolled oats, plus 1-2 tbls set aside
1/4 cup finely minced red onion, plus l tbl more set aside
1/4 cup finely minced celery, plus 1 tbl more set aside
3 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 inch chunk ginger
2 tbls beer
1 tbl pickle brine
1 tbl canola oil
squirt or two of sriracha
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp salt

Buzz up all ingredients, except those marked as set aside, in a food processor or blender. Remove to a work bowl. Consistency should be fairly thick. Only a little looseness. Although it will thicken a little more after chilling in the fridge.  Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove mixture from fridge. Stir in set aside ingredients. Consistency should now be pretty thick. Very little looseness left.

Grease a sheet tray generously.

Shape into 2 inch balls and place on sheet tray. Place sheet tray into the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When oven is ready remove tray from freezer and cook for 15 minutes.

They're going to have spread a little bit. This is okay. Leave oven on and remove tray. They will not be that hot. They will have firmed up a lot, but not entirely. Carefully reshape each ball into a round again and place back on sheet tray with the top now facing down.

Return to oven and cook 15 more minutes.

Switch oven to low broil and cook 5 more minutes.

Serve with a spicy tomato based sauce or salsa for dipping.

Sauce Ingredients
3 ripe tomatoes
5 chiles de arbol, seeds discarded from all, but one
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Roast the tomatoes in  a 400 F oven for 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chiles, oil, salt and pepper to blender and puree.