Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tasting Summer: Black Bean & Tomatillo Taco Salad

I love summer’s abundance. So many good gifts of flavor. When I wasn’t denying myself the "convenience" of processed foods, I didn’t rely so fully on what was in season and readily available, and thus I didn’t know what each week of summer really tasted like. Now, with the help of our amazing CSA, every week has a distinct flavor. And since we paid for it months ago, every Friday’s bounty of produce feels like the proverbially-unattainable free lunch.

If only the produce lasted longer than a few days. We usually eat all of it before the weekend is over.

Today I’ll give you a tiny glimpse into what food prep is like for me now. About half of the items used to create this lovely black bean and tomatillo taco salad with avocado dressing were from our CSA.

From our CSA: kale, beet greens, white and red onions, hot peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos.

From the pantry/fridge: cilantro, lime juice, avocado, olive oil, salt/spices, organic whole-milk yogurt, and Trader Joe’s Black Refried Beans (all natural)

We so enjoyed this salad. The mix of beet greens and kale as the salad base was hearty and filling, taking well to the flavor w h a c k ! of avocado/tomatillo. I might use whole black beans tossed in lime juice and cilantro, or whole pinto beans next time.

For the tomatillo salsa, I boiled the tomatillos until they sort of cracked open and became soft at the touch of a fork, then poured out some of the liquid, mashed them into the remaining liquid, and let them reduce to flavor-packed perfection. If I had more time to kill, I wouldn’t have lost one drip of the liquid, but let it all simmer and just increase the reduction time, thus locking in more flavor.

I whipped this up in about 45 minutes, which yes, did take longer than I’d like for one meal to be prepared, but it was mostly chopping, and waiting for the tomatillos to reduce, so I imagine the time could be slashed if a couple people worked together.

I'm going to give Dave the role of sous-chef next time.

 Black Bean Tomatillo Taco Salad with Avocado Dressing              
*All natural
*Grain Free
*No added sugars (very low on the glycemic index)
Serves 2
Approx. prep/cook time: 45min

For the Tomatillo Salsa:
3 small tomatillos
Sea Salt (to taste)
½ a hot pepper, chopped
Stems from the cilantro (whole)

For the Dressing:
1 avocado
2 Tbsp good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)
1/2 Bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small hot pepper, chopped, seeds removed if desired (I like to keep about half the seeds for a little kick of heat)
1 lime, juice -about 1/4 c.
Some cooking water from tomatillos

For the Pico De Gallo:
Two small onions, minced
3-5 small/medium tomatoes, chopped
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juice –about ¼ c.
Sea Salt (to taste)
½ tsp. cumin (or more, to taste)
2 garlic cloves, crushed/minced

For the Salad:
1 large bunch kale/Swiss chard/beet greens or any mix of hearty greens you prefer, chopped into ribbons, ribs removed
1 can Refried Black Beans (I like Trader Joe’s brand because they don’t use gross additives and it’s seasoned with sea salt)

For topping (optional):
¼ c. plain whole-milk yogurt (organic)
Grass fed organic fresh cheese, such as cotija or queso fresca (I didn't have any organic options on hand, so we went cheeseless.)
Lime wedges

Divide chopped greens into two medium/large serving bowls and set aside.
Place tomatillo salsa ingredients together in a small sauce pan, adding enough water to almost cover the tomatillos, and bring to a boil. Let cook over medium-high heat until tomatillos crack open. Drain about 1/3 of the water (save it for use in dressing.) Remove cilantro stems with tongs and discard. Continue to cook, crushing tomatillos with a slotted spoon, stirring occasionally, until liquids have reduced and the sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat.

Warm up the beans on the stove top on medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 min or until hot.

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients except water in a blender. Gradually add the extra water from the tomatillo reduction, pulsing between each addition, until the dressing has thinned to a creamy/runny texture for pouring.

Prepare the pico de gallo by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste it, adding more cumin/salt if needed.

Now pour some avocado dressing on your greens and toss. Top with beans, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, plain yogurt, and cheese if desired.


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