Wednesday, August 25, 2010


DP has decided that our children will never have the chance to be picky, because I seldom make the same thing for dinner twice. Since I decided to learn to cook 8 years ago, my collection of cookbooks has grown to more than 20, and I have 4 binders stuffed with all the recipes I have pulled out of magazines to try. Recently I implemented a "one in, one out" policy (toss one recipe for each one I add) but that hasn't kept me from cramming extra pages into the side pockets of the binders. In addition, since I discovered food blogs I've learned how to bookmark recipes in my internet browser for future reference. I now have over 100 saved. I would like to try for a tiny bit more organization to help on those occasions that we like something so much we want it again, but for the most part I like the variety of trying something new almost every time I cook.

I have never been one to have a "favorite" something. Favorite color, meal, band, TV show--I generally don't get attached enough to things to call them my favorite. Occasionally, though, we like a meal so much that it makes a repeat appearance (sometimes the next day--like the Fried Green Tomato BLTs). More occasionally, the meal is so good, and so satisfying that it finds itself in a somewhat regular rotation. There's the "sick soup" (chicken and rosemary dumplings, made when one of us is sick), our favorite pizza, and this salad. It was the first recipe I made from the first food blog I ever discovered, The Kitchen Sink. The creamy, healthy dressing is regularly made for everything from fish tacos to cabbage salad. I think I like it best with the original salad, which I have now made so many times I think I can firmly call it a "favorite."

Crispy Black Bean Cake Salad
adapted from The Kitchen Sink (who adapted it from Food and Wine)

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
salt and pepper
2 to 3 cups baby greens*
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 scallions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
*All salad ingredients and quantities are a matter of personal preference/what you have. Basically, put together the ingredients you would to make any salad.

Yogurt-Lime Dressing
1/3 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons canola oil. Add onion and garlic, cook over medium heat until softened, ~ 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne, cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Place the onion mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Add about half the beans (3/4 cup, but I never measure) and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, add the remaining black beans and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix thoroughly. Shape into six patties.

Place breadcrumbs into a shallow dish and dip each of the patties into the dish, pressing to get the breadcrumbs to stick.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet until shimmering. Add the cakes and cook over medium-high heat until browned.

Meanwhile, mix all of the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl. Add salad ingredients (except avocado), toss.** Divide between 2 plates.

Top salad with avocado and bean cakes, serve and enjoy!

**Alternately, as in the picture above, you could just drizzle the dressing over the assembled salad.

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