Between the ages of 18 and 30, I was a very self-satisfied semi-vegetarian and thought I was so healthy because I had quit eating red meat. In reality, I was incredibly unhealthy because I wasn't replacing the missing meat with the right things. I was doing what many people (and most restaurants) think when they hear "no meat" which is "extra cheese."
Cheese is great, but it is not a good substitute for meat in most circumstances. I was eating too much (poor quality) cheese and missing some huge nutritional components in my diet - fiber, iron, protein. One great substitute for meat is the lowly bean. Since then, I've very consciously emphasized beans and lentils in my diet and it makes me more full and gives me more energy!
I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found this awesome bag of 17 Bean & Barley Mix at Trader Joe's. The recipe on the bag tells you how to turn it into soup. I don't know about you, but if I have to look at another bowl of soup this winter I might throw the bowl at the wall in protest. So I decided to turn those 17 beans and barley into a bright and fresh crunchy mexi-flavored salad.
It's practically a rainbow of beans (I hope I'm not the only one who thinks these beans are so beautiful!) mixed with green and yellow split peas and probably a bunch of other legumes I've never even heard of. To go with the salad, I made two ingredient biscuits. Yes, you read that correctly. Two. Ingredients.
I found the recipe in Relish Magazine (it comes in the Sunday edition of the Fargo Forum and my mom saves them for me). Of course, I added a few more ingredients (cheddar cheese and pickled jalapenos) to jazz them up, but the basic recipe is so easy.
The combination of the limey bean salad with the piping hot biscuits was so delicious and filling. And I know it was incredibly good for me even without a speck of meat in the entire meal. Also, that bag of beans makes a week's worth of food. Both the cooked beans and uncooked biscuits freeze excellently.
17 Bean & Barley Mexi Salad
1 bag mixed beans, soaked overnight (note: if you don't soak it's OK. Just follow the instructions on the bag for the quick soak method, which is to boil the beans for an hour. Alternatively, you could use a few different kinds of canned beans but it won't be as pretty or cool)
1 can corn, or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 red onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced fine
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot sauce (I like Cholula)
Cook your beans in boiling water with a couple of bay leaves for about 35-45 minutes or until tender. Add salt to taste and drain. Mix your beans with the corn, onion, pepper, jalapeno, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Separately whisk together lime juice and zest, oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and hot sauce.
Mix dressing with beans and veggies. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature with freshly diced avocado.
Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits, adapted from Relish Magazine
2 cups self-rising flour (if you don't have self-rising flour, just use all-purpose flour and add 2.5 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced pickled jalapenos
Mix all ingredients together until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured counter and knead 10 times. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into biscuits.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet, brush tops with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
TWO YEARS AGO: Sun-dried Kale-abello Pasta