Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brown Rice and Black Bean Salad

This post is titled brown rice and  black bean salad because that's what I made last night, but you can use any whole grain that you have on hand.  I've used quinoa, barley, and spelt in place of rice and all are fabulous.  We all know that whole grains are essential to a healthy lifestyle but lots of people find it hard to incorporate them into their daily meals.   My biggest dilemma is not incorporating them into my family's diet, but finding new and tasty ways to use them.

 Like I've said before, our family eats a lot of Mexican food, and I always find myself struggling with what to serve alongside our favorite Mexican dishes- besides Spanish brown rice, which I've done a million times.  This brown rice and black bean salad is nutritionally complete and substantial enough to eat on it's own, or wonderful as an accompaniment to enchiladas, tacos, or any other Mexican dish.  With protein, fiber, and antioxidants to spare, it is not only palate pleasing, it really is a nutritional powerhouse.  This salad is chock full of colorful, fresh veggies and lots of vibrant flavors.  I toss it with my cilantro lime vinaigrette and it's so delectable I found myself eating a huge bowl for lunch the next day!

We're all trying to eat healthier and want things that are easy to prepare.  This dish satisfies both of those needs.  It couldn't be easier to assemble and it will leave you satiated without weighing you down.  A perfect dish for vegetarians and carnivores alike!  Ideal for these steamy summer nights, this dish is served cold, which means you can prepare it in advance.  In fact it tastes better if it sits for a couple hours to allow the flavors to marry together. 

Brown Rice and Black Bean Salad

2 C chicken broth
1 C brown rice  ( I used Brown Basmati, but any whole grain will work- just cook according to package)

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained  and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 c red onion, diced  (also good with green onions)
1/3 c chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Bring chicken broth to boil in large saucepan. Add rice. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Transfer rice to large bowl and fluff with fork. Mix in black beans, bell peppers, red onion, chopped cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour vinaigrette dressing over salad and toss to combine.  Salad can be made up to 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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