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.

Middle Eastern Vegan Meatballs

Some people get cravings for veggie burgers. I get cravings for veggie balls. Something about the shape satisfies me.

You can pick them up and eat them with your hands. You can dip then in purees and sauces. You can plant them as the apex of a hearty salad.

The most appealing thing is probably that they're fun to make and taste as good as they look.

I've done a few vegan meatball iterations in the past. This time my inspiration was hummus. I had a lot in the fridge and it occurred to me that it might help produce a more moist, tender, meaty ball.

I was right. It worked exactly as I had hoped.

These little guys have a slight crunch on the outside and are moist and tender inside.

In keeping with the spirit of hummus as my guiding force, I used its regional origins as the focus for my spice profile.

Ingredients
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 heaping tbls hummus
1/2 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbl caraway seeds
1 tbl olive oil
2 tsps salt
2 tsps ground garlic
2 tsps dry parsley
2 tsps aleppo pepper flakes or crushed pepper flakes

Process all ingredients until a thick, mildly chunky paste is formed.

Use your favorite flavor of hummus. Whatever you love best.

If you don't have caraway seeds, you can use a slice of seeded rye bread, but you'll need to use less oats. Add oats gradually to obtain the correct density.

Cover and let rest in the fridge 20 minutes.

Roll into 3 inch diameter balls and place on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil.

Cover with plastic wrap and return balls back to the fridge.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

When oven is ready remove plastic wrap and add sheet pan of balls to oven and cook for 20 minutes. They should be crispy on the outside and still tender within. The inside will firm up some upon cooling. 

Cool for at least 10 minutes.

Carefully peel the foil away from the balls as to not break them.

The hummus adds flavor, keeps them from being crumbly and keeps them moist and tender inside.

The oats absorb moisture as they cook creating some pleasant chew and texture.

These are fun to make and a joy to eat.