The last entry in my unofficial series “All About Food” on my favorite summer meals is a favorite and incredibly flexible summer salad. In my recipe book at home, I simply call this a “Basic Bean and Grain Salad.” It is made with a few staples and whatever you happen to have on hand, so it can be a good choice for a last minute meal or when you have no idea what to make.
The basis of the salad is simply 2 cups of any kind of canned beans (which is simply one 15-16 oz can) and 2 cups of any cooked grain. What you add to this are simply veggies and extras you have on hand, perhaps those that will spoil if not used soon or just something you happen to have available, and your dressing. The dressing can be either 1/3 cup of your favorite (homemade or store-bought) vinaigrette or the recipe that follows. Thus, the actual recipe looks like this:
- 2 cups canned beans, drained (white, black, pinto, chickpeas, kidney, black-eyed peas, northern, etc.)
- 2 cups cooked grain (white or brown rice, barley, bulgur, bite-sized pasta, couscous, quinoa, etc.)
- 3 cups raw or cooked vegetables (the recommendation is that if you use raw, you can mix 2 or 3 different veggies but if you use cooked it is best to stick with just one; I have broken this rule, however with very positive results!)
- ½ cup “extras” (toasted almonds or other nuts, dried fruit, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, etc.)
- ¼ medium red or white onion or 4 thin-sliced scallions (I have to be careful here; my entire family dislikes raw onion so I have to cut these very small when I try to sneak them in but they do add a nice bit of extra flavor)
- ¼ cup soft fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro basil, mint, oregano, cumin; I like to add basil and oregano for a more Greek or Italian flair and cumin and cilantro for a more Mexican taste, especially if I am using pinto or black beans as my bean).
The dressing recipe is simple and similar to one you have seen from me before. Made from ingredients I tend to have on hand most of the time, it consists simply of the following:
- ¼ cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 4 tsps lemon juice (you could use lime juice if going “Mexican,” if desired; I have done this)
- salt and pepper to taste
Simply put, drain your beans and prepare your grain and place both in a large bowl. Prepare vegetables, extras and onions and add to bowl. Toss in herbs. When ready to serve, drizzle salad with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Finally, add lemon or lime juice and toss to coat again. A terrific cool and easy summer dinner made from things you are likely to be carrying on your camping or RV journey! Enjoy!
For more camping recipes check out Woodall’s main site and bookstore for more camping information.