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.

Ultimate Mushroom Soup

This entirely plant based soup boasts a rich, dark and flavorful broth that's far more satisfying and complex than anything you can get from a can.

It's inspired by classic French Onion Soup, except mushrooms are the star instead.

It's made in a single pot and requires very little work other than chopping all the vegetables.

For your efforts you'll be rewarded with a hearty and filling meal that will last for days. This recipe yields about 10 cups worth of soup.


My Ultimate Mushroom Soup
Ingredients

1 pint white mushrooms, chopped small
1 pint baby bella mushrooms, chopped small
1/2 a medium yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped small
2 jalapenos, deseeded, minced
1 serrano, deseeded, minced
1 habernero, deseeded, minced
1 poblano, large dice
1 long hot pepper, sliced
2 pieces black garlic, diced
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped, including stems

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12 ounce bag frozen broccoli
1/2 a box quick cook pasta

6 cups water
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tbls olive oil
2 tbl soy sauce
2 tsps black pepper
4 tsps salt

This soup is a celebration of mushrooms. All the other ingredients are there to make the mushrooms shine and give depth to the broth. A few are just there for protein and their ability to provide a filling meal.

Normally, I dip into my arsenal of spices whenever I'm creating something new, but this time I tried a different approach. In order to make sure that those mushrooms were the star the only spices are salt and pepper and the only herb is the fresh parsley.

A lot of people don't think to use soy sauce in dishes that aren't 'asian', but it has a great umani flavor and a lot of salinity. It works wonders in vegan broths, especially those that are mushroom based.

Most of the work of this is slicing and dicing. If you like cutting vegetables, you'll love this.

I used black garlic in this. I first heard about black garlic watching "Chopped". It's easily obtainable on amazon. It doesn't cost a lot. It has a mushroomy, sweet, garlicky flavor that is perfect for a mushroom forward broth. It has a weird soft texture, but it blends beautifully into a soup.

You can omit it, but you should try it. You might just discover a new favorite ingredient.

Chop the mushrooms first and add them to a large stock put. Add the salt and cook down the mushrooms until they begin to darken. Add onion and continue cooking until they are soft and the mushrooms are even darker. You'll see a lot of dark liquid forming in the pot. This is good. This is the mushroom 'liquor' and it is full of flavor.

Add wine and cook it off for 5 minutes.

Add garlic, black garlic, jalapeno, serrano, habernero, poblano, soy sauce, water. Simmer 10 more minutes.

Add kidney beans and black beans. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Add pasta. Cover and simmer 3 more minutes.

I don't really like quick cook pasta. It's too easy to overcook, but in this application it works.

Add parsley. Turn off heat. Let rest on warm burner 3 more minutes.

Pour into a large heat safe container with a lid.

Add broccoli. Cover. Do not stir the broccoli into the hot mixture. Just let the broccoli sit on top. It will steam and also cool down the soup. Allow to rest this way for 5 minutes. At that point you can serve it up and enjoy it.

If you don't want to eat it right away uncover and allow to cool at least 15 more minutes before transferring to the fridge.