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 Garbanzos and Barley

A departure from my usual heat and spice heavy fare, this has notes of sweetness to accompany the mild heat.

2 cubanelle peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 banana pepper
1/2 cup white onion
3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup vodka
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbl red wine vinegar
2 tbls sriracha
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tps spicy mustard
3-5 cups water

1 can garbanzos, with 1/4 of the brine
1/2 cup dry pearl barley
1 cup escarole
1 cup spinach

cayenne, salt, black pepper

First two sets of ingredients go into a large pot. Start with 3 cups water. Bring the contents to a boil, uncovered. Continue to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Add barley. Cover and simmer to cook the barley. Add additional water 1/2 cup at a time, as needed, to cook the barley to al dente.

Add escarole, spices and garbanzos. Add more water if needed to keep things loose. Cover and cook 5 more minutes.

Add spinach. More water if needed. When adding more water use enough to keep things moist, with a little bit of liquid in the pot, but not so much that it becomes a soup. You just want to maintain a bit of sauce in their. If you add too much water, you can simmer extra time, uncovered to reduce it.

Tate often to test for tender barley and proper seasoning. When the barley is tender. Cover, Turn off heat. Allow spinach to wilt for 5 minutes.