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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best of 2011: Black Bean and Walnut Salad

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Oops. Today is my first of two recipes for the September Best of 2011 Challenge. I'm fully aware of the fact that September has come and gone, but the month just seemed to slip away before I had the chance to make anything from The 12 Best Foods Cookbook. I did make the two recipes on Friday, the last day of September, I just didn't get them posted in time!
(team pic--9 runners & 2 cheerleaders!)
I'll blame Ragnar, that relay race I mentioned last week. That, coupled with a brief vacation in Washington DC, took us out of town for a few days which put me in quite the time crunch. Ragnar is totally worth it though. For those of you who aren't familiar with the event, it's a 200 mile relay in which teams of 12 (or 9 in our case) travel from one location to another with one member of the team always running. It is undoubtedly one of the most fun things I've ever done. We've done the event twice before--both times from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL--but this time we took our team to the mountains of Maryland. This year's race was a blast! We once again endured little sleep (and by little, I mean close to none!) and lots of running (my 4 legs totaled 26.5 miles) while experiencing new terrain (crazy elevation!) and a new team name (Team Nipguard). If you love to run and ever have the chance to participate in a Ragnar relay, I couldn't recommend it more!

For those of you here for the food, let's get back to the food...this black bean and walnut salad sounded like a very basic recipe, which is precisely why I selected it. I was short on time and wanted something quick and easy. In ten minutes this was put together and I stuck it in the fridge to marinate. To be honest, I was really only making it just to fulfill my monthly challenge and didn't have high expectations. As it turns out, I was totally wrong. The salad was great, even with my minor adjustments (shown below). There are plenty of ways you could eat this--in a wrap, on top of greens, or mixed with rice, couscous, or quinoa. It's the perfect lunch salad and actually contains two of the "best foods" from the cookbook: walnuts and black beans.

Because I already included a walnut recipe for the Best of 2011 Challenge (broccoli pesto), the featured ingredient today is black beans. According to the book, black beans are:
-a source in folate, fiber, and protein
-known to help reduce blood cholesterol and stabalize blood sugar levels
-flavanoids include those that may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers

Black beans are a power food indeed! Find ways to eat them up, including this salad!

Looking for other black bean recipes? Try these enchiladas, this coconut rice dish, or these sweet potato pita sandwiches!

One Year Ago: Magic Cookie Bars
Two Years Ago: Homemade Granola Bars

Black Bean and Walnut Salad
From The Twelve Best Foods Cookbook
-1/3 cup walnuts
-1 (15 oz) can black beans
-1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
-1 garlic clove, finely chopped
-2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (I omitted)
-3 large basil leaves, cut into thin strips (I chopped a small handful of them)
-4 tsp red wine vinegar (I subbed balsamic which I think was a good decision!)
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 tsp salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until fragrant (stir a few times so that they don't burn). Set aside to cool. Once cooled, break into small pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, place cooled nuts, beans, scallion, garlic, and herbs, tossing to combine.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix vinegar, mustard, and salt. Season to taste with pepper before whisking in the olive oil. Toss the bean mixture with the dressing and stir to evenly coat. Cover and allow to sit (I refrigerated mine) for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop before serving (I thought it was even better the next day!).

This post is linked to Eat at Home.