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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

taco salad - an alternate take

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Face it folks. We've all, at one point or another, succumbed to the temptation of the fast food salad.

Oh, ye wilted lettuce, hardened cheddar and greasy non-descript chili.
Alas, ye stale yellow corn chips and questionable sour cream.

Hungry yet?

I am totally playing hookey tonight. I should be in class. But I'm not. I just couldn't do it. And I have a mid-term on Thursday, which I believe is penance enough for one week. At least it should be, when you consider that the student in question also works full time.

Anyway, back to my alternate taco salad. So this isn't your standard Wendy's offering. This is a taco salad that has gone a little hippie, a little native, with a touch of charm school. As in to say, I'm still on a diet (down 7.5 pounds now) and I wanted something that I could enjoy, that would be flavourful, that would look pretty and that I could write about.

So I started having visions of bean cakes. I've read about them.....never really had them before, but I thought...I love beans, I love what's not to love about combining the two. And it turns out it's a great combo, a filling dinner, a bit creative and still good for me. The basic premise of the salad is, you take a base of lettuce, add some grilled veggies, some chopped up avocado, and top with a bean cake or two, some salsa, and some low-fat sour cream. You could add cheese (I didn't, but I suspect hubs will, though he decried my black bean cakes as lumps of dog poop covered in corn meal). Okay....I do understand that black beans are not the most attractive substance when ground up and combined with other lumpy things.....but I think calling them dog poop was a little harsh.

You could easily make any number of alterations to this recipe - change up your type of beans, alter the spices, change the veggies, add corn, etc. It's more of a guideline than anything. IN particular, I grilled sweet potato because it's a superfood, and zucchini because it just kicks ass when you grill it. I loved my dinner, and could happily have eaten a heck of a lot more of it....but alas, the price we pay for beauty.....

Alternative Taco Salad

Black Bean Cakes (makes a lot)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 c. dried bread crumbs
1/4 c. salsa
2 t cumin
1 t hot sauce
1 egg (I"m debating using two next time.....)
3-4 cloves garlic
seasonings (I added about 1 t extra spicy mrs. dash)

Cornmeal coating - 1/2 c. cornmeal, 1 t salt, 1 t extra-spicy mrs. dash or chili powder, 1/2 t oregano

1. In a food processor (or with a potato masher), mash the black beans until pretty much chopped. Doesn't have to be uniformly smooth though.

2. Scrape the black beans into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine.

3. On a plate, combine the cornmeal, salt, seasoning and oregano. Using a spoon or your hands (I vote hands as opposable thumbs evolved for a reason), shape about 3 T of the bean mixture into a small patty. Dip both sides of the patty in the cornmeal mixture.

4. Arrange on a silpat, parchment paper, or really greased baking sheet. Continue with remainder of the bean mix. I ended up with 24 little cakes.

5. To cook, preheat the broiler, and place the rack on the second highest setting. Either brush the cakes with oil, or spray them lightly (spraying will give you less fat, if that's a concern). Broil each side about 5-6 minutes, spraying the second side when you turn the cakes.

They are somewhat fragile, but very tasty.

I also grilled my sweet potato and zucchini on the BBQ. Basically, I sliced the potato in thin slices and brushed it with a grilling mixture, and same for the zucchini. My grilling mixture comprised olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, steak spice (pepper and garlic, mostly), a bit of salt and some maple syrup. You can use whatever you like.

My grilling mix:

Sweet potatoes, primed and ready to go:

Grilled yumminess (the charred bits are all hubs' doing. I'm not allowed near the bbq.)

To make the salad.....simply dress your plate with lettuce, pile on your veggies, perhaps add some chopped avocado and coriander, and then top with the bean cakes. I like it with salsa and sour cream, personally. Very yummy! I ended up eating 3 of the little cakes, but you could definitely eat more.


And a huge wish of good luck to the Sens tomorrow. If they prevail, we shall dine on roasted duck..........

Thanks for reading!


Thistlemoon said...

Wow! That looks so good! I love balc beans and sweet potatoes together - what a combo!

Anonymous said...

You're a legend in the kitchen! Your culinary effort is amazing. When are we going to see you on t.v with your own cooking show??

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