A change in the weather

This past weekend – a day at the beach, a morning at the farmer’s market, a lazy day spent leisurely cooking – has totally put me in the summer mood. There’s still plenty of work going on around here; I’m dusting my boots off as we speak. But a year in and I’m finally getting settled in my apartment. I’m looking at paint chips and searching for fabric and it’s all very fun and exciting, at least to me. This “fun and exciting” bit includes, but is not limited to, drooling over The Rug Company website, browsing pages of beautiful furniture I can’t afford, and dreaming up a little writer’s spot, which I envision will pretty well look the way it does now – a chair, a dining table and a laptop – but with peonies and a magical and amazing coffee genie. It’s the little things.
I digress.

When I search for recipes, I cull through blogs and pages for ones that are, as clichéd as it sounds, fresh, simple and innovative. I’m interested in new methods and techniques, in adding a little charm to the everyday. It’s the French toast dipped in orange blossom water, or a vibrant spice blend, or a tablespoon of vinegar that cuts through the richness of a stew, enlivening it with a new dimension. I’m not really into long preparation times or multiple steps. Sometimes it’s nice to devote an entire day to prepping and cooking, but it doesn’t usually interest me. I probably pass over most of the recipes I would have gobbled up hungrily just a couple short years ago.

This recipe is adapted from Kary Osmond’s show. If I could come back as someone else, I might like to come back as Kary Osmond.

This one is a true winner. It’s filling and tasty, full of vibrant colours and comforting textures. Last week I threw together salads on the fly for my lunches, and one day I landed on a stunning and somewhat surprising combination: shredded leftover chicken Diablo, black beans, avocado, and mango tossed in a quick white wine vinaigrette. I loved the way the mango and the avocado played off each other – the tanginess of the mango with the buttery, mellow flavor of the avocado. Mashed with the chicken and black beans, it was fantastic. This one is pretty good, too, but a little more economical and less fussy to put together.

Basically, you open a couple of cans, rinse, and do a bit of chopping. It requires a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. I’ve been taking this salad for lunch, but I imagine it would also be quite nice served up next to some roasted chicken or grilled fish. Alternatively, you could throw a scoopful on some greens or on a baked sweet potato. I thought that might grab your attention.

Black Bean, Chickpea and Avocado Salad with Mango
Adapted from Canadian Living
Yields 4-6 servings

1 – 16oz can of black beans, or about 1.5 cups cooked and salted
1 – 16oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or about 1.5 cooked and salted
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
½ mango, diced (optional)
1 jalapeno, diced, or to taste
1 brightly coloured bell pepper, cleaned and diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
Zest (rind) of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss everything except for the lime juice and olive oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together lime juice and oil. Add to the salad. Chill for at least one hour.


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