Summer Panzanella with Spicy Two Bean Dressing

I don't know about you, but when it's hot I don't like to stand over the stove. One of the major benefits of not eating meat is that you don't need to cook your food. You can eat it raw. So I haven't been cooking much lately, but I have been chopping, dicing, stirring and creating wonderful flavors without the use of heat.

Pick up some fresh produce, open a can of beans and raid your pantry for those flavor bombs that you've collected.

Here's a panzanella topped with a fresh vegetable and bean mix. The secret to the flavor is in the tomatoes and the sauce that form the dressing. Summer tomatoes are so sweet and delicious. Let's take advantage of that fact.

When you allow everything to rest in the fridge for a little while, the tomatoes release their sweet, acidic juice and all the other flavors harmonize.

3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 banana pepper, sliced on the bias
1 habernero pepper, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed

3 tbls olive oil
2 tbls apple cider vinegar
1 tbl hot sauce
2 tsps spicy mustard

2 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsps oregano

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Let rest a few hours in the fridge. The acids mellow the garlic, similar to cooking it. The oregano releases its flavors. The green peppers add a pop of bitter. Everything marries beautifully into a cohesive whole. .

Serve with cubed or torn whole wheat bread pieces and baby spinach leaves.

When you're looking for a starch for your bean and vegetable mix don't overlook a simple slice or hunk of bread. Just break it up into bite size pieces. Panzanella is an Italian classic for a reason.

 It's an easy and delicious way to add bulk, protein and starch. The bread pieces soak up all that beautiful sauce and really bring the salad alive.


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