Busy days, summer days, call for quick and easy recipes that don’t require a lot of cooking which makes things hotter than it already is. A recent quick creation was a millet & black bean spinach salad, an excellent meal when you want something light but filling, is that possible? I think it is with this dish.
We’ve been keeping things real simple these days, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I’m short on help (my husband is out of the country for a bit!) and we’re staying with family so I don’t have the luxury of being in my own kitchen. So I’ve adapted. It’s been really quite nice as I haven’t spent more than 20 minutes on any given meal.
Here’s what I’ve done: Every few days I make several batches of a variety of starches, cut up red and yellow potatoes (boil on the stove), brown rice (in the rice cooker), millet or quinoa (rice cooker), or barley (stove) to use some examples. Then I’ll cook a batch of lentils, black beans, or other legume and have that on hand. I store these in a variety of food storage containers in the fridge so they are ready to be used when meal time rolls around. Pre-dinner I will grab a starch, sometimes a legume, and whatever veggies are on hand and throw together a salad or a stir-fry. Not the most exciting thing, but I’ve come up with some good variations on the same old theme (beans and millet, for example, instead of beans and rice like usual). As far as veggies go, it helps to have things ready to go to cut down on prep time: pre-washed bagged spinach, cherry tomatoes, pre-washed sugar snap peas, cut up carrots (I like to vary the cuts–shredded, diagonally cut, diced, julienned, discs…), pre-washed cut up brocolli, you get the idea…
Once you have the “meat” of your meal (ha, ha), then you need to decide what sort of flavor you want. Salsa is a bit of a cop-out, but works wonders when you have absolutely no time to mess around. I like a basic organic no-salt herb seasoning (Coscto sells a fantastic product, similar to Mrs. Dash) that can go with just about anything, as well as onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and curry seasoning. Tabasco sauce is great for adding a little (or a lot!) kick, depending on your spice preference. Balsalmic, red wine, and rice vinegars are excellent for adding flavor. Lemon juice, vegetable broth, soy sauce/tamari/nama shoyu/Bragg’s liquid aminos, freshly ground pepper, and celtic sea salt are also some flavor enhancers to consider. And fresh herbs. Oh, my, goodness. I love fresh cilantro and fresh parsley and usually have this always stocked in my fridge because these are such versital herbs. Fresh basil is also amazing…nothing can compare with it’s flavor and is so great in pasta dishes and sauces. It can be pricey, so consider buying a potted plant and putting it in your kitchen or growing it in your garden, like I’m doing this year.
I really love to make some creative gourmet dishes, trying out new recipes. But recently I’ve found that it can be just as fun challenging myself to make very simple, great tasting dishes as well.
So, anyway, here’s the recipe, a complete meal in one dish:
Millet & Black Bean Spinach Salad w/ Orange Basalmic Vinegarette Dressing
WF, GF, SF, LF, OF
Serves 4 for dinner, 6 as a side dish
I literally made this in less than 10 minutes! I already had the millet and black beans cooked and on hand. I can’t say I measured the ingredients, but I will do the best I can to guess the amounts. That’s the great thing about salads, though, it’s nearly impossible to “mess up”! I really enjoyed the orange/basalmic vinegarette flavor. If you’re not crazy about this flavor, use another light vinegarette.
- 6 c. washed raw spinach leaves
- 3 c. cooked millet
- 2 c. black beans
- 1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- 1 orange bell pepper diced
- 1/4 c. basalamic vinegar
- 1-2 tsp. agave nectar
- Juice of 1-2 oranges
Toss all ingredients together. Add more basalmic vinegarette/orange juice to taste.