As soon as the new year arrives, January becomes the month all about weight loss, getting fit, eating healthy, etc. We all put on the extra pounds during the holiday months by eating our favorite hearty comfort foods and then try to shed them as fast as we can. Just like everyone else, I too make a new year's resolution I don't quite keep. But this year I hope to follow through with my plan to eat more and more vegetables and a lot less meat. My way of eating during the winter months has always included lots of soups and stews that feature meat. But I'm finding that once I change the foods I eat and the techniques I use to cook them, that I can follow through with my plan. To achieve this, I try to think of the foods of summer, such as salads, grilled chicken and fish, and other recipes that remind me of healthier eating.
This brightly colored black bean salad not only reminds me of summer, but it also has the frugal sensibility of winter. The dried beans, once cooked, are combined with fresh vegetables that are available year round. For this recipe, I prefer using dried beans instead of canned, because they're more economical and I can control the flavoring of the cooking liquid as well as the texture of the beans. Most canned beans tend to be overcooked. This high-fiber salad is great for a quick lunch on its own or alongside a protein for dinner. It also works exceptionally well as a salsa for an appetizer when paired with baked tortilla chips. It's versatile, healthy, and flavorful. It makes for a great healthy start to the new year.
Black Bean Salad
1/2 pound dried black beans
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Soak beans in 4 cups of cold water overnight. The next day, drain beans and rinse. Combine beans, stock, and bay leaf in a pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time. Discard bay leaf. Drain beans.
Whisk together lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
While beans are still warm, combine with corn, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño pepper. Pour in vinaigrette. Toss gently to combine. Check seasoning. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Toss in cilantro before serving. Serve with warmed tortillas and sliced avocados. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.