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.

Caramelized Spanish Rice and Beans Vegan Recipe

This is a sweet with a little heat spanish style rice and beans. It gets great depth of flavor from the caramelization of several of the components. It has a dark, smoky sweetness that is incredibly satisfying.

It takes some time, but as Alton Brown often says, your patience will be rewarded. 

1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 vine tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 habanero, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups dry white rice

1 small can low sodium V8 juice
2 3/4 - 3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup whtie wine
3 tbls olive oil

2 1/2 tbls salt
2 tbls paprika
2 tbls garlic powder
1 tbl ground cumin
2 tsps turmeric
2 tsps cayenne powder
2 tsps black pepper

If the spice measurements seem high, it's just because this makes a huge amount of food. Feel free to halve everything. 

The V8 juice is my secret flavor bomb. No, I'm not being compensated by the company. It's concentrated vegetable flavor. Don't skip this ingredient. 

The other key to this recipe is all in the caramelization. It's the bedrock upon which all the other flavors stand. 

Use a  very large skillet or a paella pan. Saute the onion in 1 tbl of the oil and 1 tbl of the salt over medium high heat until nicely nicely caramelized. Dark, but not too dark.

Deglaze with the wine. Cook it off 2 minutes. 

Add tomatoes. Continue cooking until a good amount of the tomatoes' juices start to come out into the pan. 

Add rice and stir to coat in the juice. Toast the rice until most of the liquid is gone. 

Add 2 cups water. Simmer until mostly absorbed. 

Add all the peppers, garlic, spices, remaining oil, V8. Cook until thoroughly absorbed and it starts to go somewhat sticky. 

Add both beans, 1/2 cup more water. Keep simmering. 

When the water is gone, taste a few grains of rice. Add more water in 1/2 cup increments to finish cooking the rice. 

When the rice is done and liquid gone, allow to continue cooking several more minutes until the rice on the bottom of the pan begins to caramelize and the tomatoes and V8 juice have darkened to a dark shade of red, almost maroon.

The sauce pictured was made separately to accompany the broccoli.

2 parts dijon mustard
1 part each hot sauce, soy sauce, olive oil
1 tsp each salt and black pepper

Whisk together everything except the olive oil. Continue to whisk constantly while you slowly drizzle in the the oil.