When the words “college” and “cooking” fall into the same sentence, I am always wary of the presumption that cooking on a budget is something that should naturally approached with dread. I’d like you to set that notion aside and bury it under an avalanche of rewarding and delicious cooking experiences to come.
Legumes (beans) are cheap, filling and easy to procure. They are what encouraged early man to toss their spears to the wayside, settle down to produce agriculture and eventually become the post-Neolithic couch potatoes humans are today. They are also filling, low fat and nutritious.
This three-bean and vegetable salad hits the mouth in all the right spots. Seriously, you are about to take a trip to flavor country.
The recipe uses a budget-friendly mix of both fresh and canned ingredients. Any canned ingredient can be substituted for freshly prepared ones — and if you feel adventurous, I encourage you to do so. As far as the dressing goes, stick to the recipe exactly and you won’t be disappointed.
Drain Rinse & Chop
Position the strainer over a basin. Pour the cans of corn, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney beans into the strainer. Run cool tap water over the strainer to rinse the contents, then empty into a large bowl. Add the small can of chopped green chili into the bowl without draining.
Take out the fresh greens — cilantro, celery and green onion — and rinse.
Cut off the ends of the celery so only the fresh green heart of each piece remains. Split all four pieces along the entire length of the stalk, resulting in eight long pieces of split celery. Chop the celery into small pieces. These add a great crunch to the salad and really make it pop.
Grab the bunch of cilantro and chop the leafy top part of it onto a cutting board. Set aside the stalks — they don’t go in the salad. Chop the cilantro very finely.
Bust out the fresh green onions! Remember, those are the bundles of leek-like green and white stalks that taste like an onion. Cut off the ends of 4 stalks and chop into little slices.
Drop the cilantro, green onion and celery into the bowl.
Measure & Shake
The dressing is easy, really easy. Pour ½ cup vegetable oil and ¼ cup red wine vinegar into a jar. Add cumin, chili powder, minced garlic, salt, pepper and oregano to the oil and vinegar. Shake it up until its uniform. You might be thinking: Why not olive oil? What about balsamic vinegar? Truthfully, substitutions for vegetable oil and red wine vinegar simply detract from the final result.
Pour the dressing over the salad and stir it up gently with a spoon.
This recipe is fully sublime with fresh chopped, blanched asparagus tips in the mix. Blanching is a process of partially cooking vegetables in boiling water, then submerging them in a bath of ice water to preserve flavor and texture.
It is best after marinating in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, but go ahead and take an early bite. Boom, it’s awesome. Isn’t that gratifying?
It’s the perfect addition to a lunch bag at school, a barbecue at the park or a Solo cup rushing to get out the door. It has got the zesty-crunchy-funky-spicy fully fresh feel that you know your mouth is going to crave. There is really only one option left at this point: better start cooking!