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.

Thai Basil Chow Mein

A small grocery recently opened right by my home. It's run by an Asian family and has some great authentic Asian foods as well as a nice assortment of fresh produce. There's also a Thai takeout close by that has the most amazing food. It's wicked spicy and heavy on the Thai basil. Which I love. These were my inspirations to do my own spin on a noodle stir fry.

Veggie Mix
10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 lb red, yellow and orange baby bell peppers, sliced into small strips, veins and seeds removed
1/2 small red onion, sliced into half circles
1/2 cup white wine, divided into 1/4 cups
1/2 cup water
a few bunches chopped fresh Thai basil
1 tsp each salt and pepper

1 six ounce package dry chow mein noodles

Sauce
2 tps soy sauce
2 tsps sriracha
2 tbls canola oil
zest and juice from one large mandarin orange
5 small cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, minced
1 habernero, minced
2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
a few bunches fresh Thai basil, chiffonaded, more for garnish

In a small bowl whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Set aside.

Saute mushrooms in 1 tbl  oil and with 1 tsp salt until just tender and slightly darkened. Add 1/4 cup wine and the sauce mix. Continue cooking over high heat until mushrooms turn dark and half of the liquid is absorbed.

Add noodles. Other 1/4 cup wine. Lower heat to medium. Toss noodles to combine with mushroom mixture. Let noodles absorb the sauce for a few minutes.

Add peppers, onions and 1/4 cup water. Toss to mix all ingredients thoroughly. Heat through 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add Another bunch of basil. Toss. Let sit 2 minutes before serving.

Sweet orange and slight heat combine for a very clean Asian stir fry. I kept the flavors simple and the ingredients minimal, so each component is able to shine. Fresh basil and orange provide the big punch of flavor.