Black Beans: Vegan Two Ways

If you’re anything like me, you always have a bag or two (okay, maybe three) of dry beans in  your pantry. Dry beans are, in my opinion, a vegan staple and people of all diets should always have them on hand.

My husband on the other hand, gets a little antsy about things being the pantry for “too long” so I decided to use them since corn on the cob is everywhere this time of year and I really felt like a black bean salad. But a problem I often have is incorrectly eye measuring stuff, yet I still find myself doing it. Regularly. So…black beans two ways.

Black bean salad is pretty easy to make, even easier when you don’t have to fret about which protein to put in it and whether or not to add cheese. At least I think so.

All you need is…fresh vegetables. I grilled two ears of corn on the stove top griddle and let them cool before cutting the kernels off. Then I chopped a red bell pepper, two scallions, some Romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered, then tossed them into a large mixing bowl. (Is eighth’ed a word?)

Now set aside the bowl because its time to make the lime mustard dressing!

This was pretty simple. All you need is: mustard (I used spicy and sweet), the juice and some zest of a lime, dill, salt, pepper, cumin and smoky paprika. Whisk it and pour it on top and lunch is served.

Don’t forget to add the avocado if you have an avocado lover in your house!

Make sure you toss it until everything is coated and be sure to taste it. Don’t be afraid to let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding more seasoning sometimes all a dish needs is time.

Add a Corona or Negro Modelo to the side and you’ve got a long lunch ahead of you!

 

The problem I had was that I only used 2 cups of cooked beans to make this salad and I had almost 4 cups remaining.

…then my mother in law found vegan gnocchi at the market and got it for us.

What to do with black beans and gnocchi?

Plenty, but what did I choose? Black bean curry with gnocchi.

I don’t know where it came from but that’s how we ended up here so let’s just go with it.

I’ll just get this out of the way now because some consider it controversial. I pan fried my gnocchi in olive oil and garlic. The end.

It’s crunchy and delicious and potato-y and I love it. Boil it if you want.

The curry was a simple one with onions, ginger, garlic, bell peppers and black beans with loads of spices.

I didn’t use coconut milk, instead I made a tomato, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger mix, added water and cornstarch to it and let it thicken that way, but coconut milk is also an option.

Top the gnocchi with the curry, be as generous or as stingy as you want with the liquid.

For the garnish, I thin sliced scallions and mint to cool the spice in the dish.

And that’s how you end up using a lot of beans and creating a new dish!

By the way, we ended up having one full serving of curry left over and we split it over a bed of jasmine rice so technically, vegan black beans…three ways?

The Lazy Vegan’s Guide to Mealtime

It’s been almost two years since my husband and I adopted a plant based diet and aside from concern over my protein intake, the most common question I get asked is, “But what do you eat?”

I usually answer with sarcasm, something along the lines of grass and twigs because, let’s face it, that’s what people expect to hear whether or not it’s true. The truth is that I love to cook and would consider myself something of a foodie but that’s only if and when time permits. As a full-time writer and part-time author, my schedule is pretty packed most days. But a girl’s gotta eat, right?

So when we’re not whipping up fancy vegan feasts or rustic weeknight meals, we take the Keep It Simple, Stupid school of thought.

Step One: Grab some veggies

Depending on where in the world you live, you might find you can’t get all the produce all year long, which means you have to improvise. Don’t be afraid to spend some time in the produce aisle and see what’s on offer and what’s in season, more importantly, what’s not in season. You’ll notice that some fruits and vegetables may be available all year long they don’t always taste how they should.

If you’re not much of a cook, think about easy meals like stir-fry, vegetable medley, curry or a plain old casserole dish.

Step Two: Pick a grain.

This is my favorite part because the grains are where I’ll decide what this dish will be. Reach for bulgur or couscous and give your meal a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean flair, add rice to make it whatever you want, or my personal favorite, add a serving of your favorite Asian style noodle.

You don’t have to stick with any hard and fast rules here, just go with whatever flavors you feel like grabbing from your spice rack.

If you’re feeling really crazy, grab some tortilla shells and turn that veggie-tofu mix into tacos, burritos, nachos or fajitas.

Step three: Get your spices in order.

I firmly believe that the key to good, healthy vegan eating is variety. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, sure. But also variety in your spice cabinet, because this is how you’ll keep your taste buds excited about meal time.

You’ll want the basics like salt and whole black pepper, herbs like dill, thyme, oregano, basil and marjoram if you’re not ready for fresh herbs, but as you become more comfortable in the kitchen pick up more spices and herbs like cumin, cayenne pepper, curry, turmeric, garlic granules, all spice, smoky paprika and whatever else strikes your fancy.

Change up your spices and you’ll never be bored at mealtime.

Step four: Enjoy

Despite what you think or what you may have heard, being vegan doesn’t require you to spend hours in the kitchen. In fact, I would argue that it’s easier because there’s no animal protein you have to cook but we can debate that later.

This is my go-to method for creating quick and easy meals. It’s a fantastic way to eat healthy without ordering fast food or paying to eat out at restaurants on a regular basis.

Veggie taco.

Sticky orange cauliflower & rice

Just add rice & Sriracha and you’re good to go!