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A Protein Packed Summer Salad (No Meat Required!)

 

I try to limit the time I spend heating up my kitchen during the warmer months, instead opting for using the grill or choosing recipes that use little or no-cook methods when possible. Salads are often a great alternative and adding protein to them make them filling and an excellent entree choice. While chicken, lean meat and fish are always options, I’m looking for ways to reduce the amount of meat my family consumes.

 

I happened to recently come across a recipe in my Southern Living magazine for a Rice and Beans Salad, which I modified to my taste, adding more veggies and I came up with what turned out to be a real winner. It’s very “Tex-Mex-like” in flavor, simple to prepare, filling and quite budget-friendly. Here’s the best part–everyone likes it! I’ll share with you my version of this salad, but I encourage you to tweak to your liking. For example, if you like bell pepper add it. Maybe add some red onion or raw mushrooms and if you don’t like tomato substitue with something like chopped celery. Basically, anything (healthy) goes. The beans provide the protein, plus they also add fiber. I used garbanzo beans, black beans and black-eyed peas, but feel free to select your favorites. Enjoy!

 

Rice and Beans Salad with Texas Vinaigrette

 

For the Salad:
Shredded lettuce (Romaine, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 cups prepared brown rice
1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa (optional)
4 teaspoons reduced fat sour cream (optional)

 

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

 

After whisking together the vinaigrette ingredients, combine the beans and 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer while you assemble the salads on individual plates. Place shredded lettuce on half the plate, 1/2 cup of brown rice, 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes and 1/4 of the chopped avocado. Ladle 1/4 of the beans onto the center of the plate and put 1 teaspoon of sour cream and 1/8 cup of salsa if you choose. Sprinkle with the reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Serves 4.

 

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