I should probably admit right off the bat that I was a tad stumped on what to call this salad. It’s so much more than a summer rice and black bean salad. I mean, I’ve made iterations of rice and black beans ever since I started cooking for myself. It’s one of my favourite meals to prepare – it’s easy, delicious and comforting.
This one though, it’s a little special, and because it’s loaded with a few farm-fresh seasonal produce from the market, I felt that for the purposes of this post, this is certainly a summer salad. What it really is, is a veggie (and fruit) packed rice and bean salad layered with sweet and spicy hints of maple syrup and pepper.
There are a few components to this salad, all of which come together seamlessly to make this salad great.
First, you have to pickle some peppers (sorry, I can’t think of any Peter Piper jokes right now) – this sweet and spicy variable condiment will brighten your salad with a bit of zing and heat. Next, you’ll roast some pecans (or some other nut you have on hand or prefer) with a glug of maple syrup and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. The sweet and spicy theme weaves on through with a creamy tangy vinaigrette of maple and Dijon mustard, with a touch of smoked paprika to finish the salad off.
For the veggies, you’ll slice some onions, carrots, and add a handful of summer’s bounty – sweet cherry tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries. Finally, it all gets tossed with the rice and black beans for a filling and surprisingly refreshing salad. I like to cook my rice in vegetable broth if I’m tossing it in a salad, it’s a way to build flavour. Same goes for the beans, I cook these with the scraps from the garlic and carrots, just remember to take them out when done.
As always, feel free to adapt this recipe to your preference – this is a good one for alterations. A mix of plums and cherries could replace the blueberries and strawberries, wouldn’t that be lovely? Also, whatever pot of leftover grains (or pasta) you have on hand can replace rice, and use some other kind of legume if you’re so inclined.
We make a lot of salad in the summer, usually in large batches on Sunday, we have some for dinner and portion leftovers in jars and bento boxes for lunch that week.
- 4 – 5 medium-sized jalapeño peppers, deseeded and sliced
- 1 small bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 – 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive
- 2 - 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (red or white wine vinegar will do too)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup warm water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups pecans
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 – 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (I used brown basmati rice)
- Handful of baby arugula
- Pack peppers into a large airtight jar
- Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan
- Cook over medium heat and stir occasionally so that the sugar dissolves
- Bring to a boil, then remove from heat
- Pour mixture carefully over pepper
- Let the pickled pepper cool completely, and refrigerate until ready to use
- Peppers will keep to at 2 – 3 weeks
- Combine olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, vinegar and paprika in a blender or food processor
- Blend until smooth, drizzle in warm water to thin out until desired consistency is reached
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line baking tray with parchment paper
- Toss pecans, olive oil, maple syrup, black pepper and salt together in a bowl
- Spread nuts out in a single layer on to the prepared baking tray
- Roast for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until nuts are fragrant and slightly darkened in colour
- Let nuts cool completely before using, it’ll keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks
- In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries
- Add lemon, pinch of salt and toss gently to mix
- Add drained and cooled pickled peppers, black beans, brown rice and arugula and mix
- Just before serving, add 1/2 – 3/4 of vinaigrette (or as much or as little as you want) and toss to coat
- Serve topped with pecans and more vinaigrette