Summer Reading at the OPL is about to kick off, and this year we’re reading fairy tales and fantasies! One of my favorite fairy tales is Jack and the Beanstalk. Thinking about that fairy tale reminds me of a great recipe for a summer evening meal. Sometimes meat sounds a little heavy, and what you really want is to go vegetarian for dinner. This recipe for Black Bean & Avocado Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing, from Good Housekeeping Light and Healthy Cooking, does the trick. It’s a light, easy to put together lunch or dinner made with basic ingredients, and there’s no working over a sweltering stove on a sticky, hot summer evening because there’s no cooking involved. In my kitchen, that’s like magic!
Black Bean & Avocado Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing
Makes 4 large servings or 8 side servings
What you need for the dressing:
- ¾ cup plain nonfat yogurt OR light sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise1
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 green onion, minced2
What you need for the salad:
- 1 head romaine lettuce, base stem removed and cut into ¾ inch pieces (about 8 cups)
- 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise into quarters, then sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 1 large ripe avocado, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained3
What you do:
Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Whisk until mixed together and dressing is smooth. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; pour dressing over lettuce; toss lightly until all leaves are coated. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir gently to combine ingredients. Pour vegetable mixture over lettuce. Serve immediately.
Helpful Hints & Hacks
- You can use low-fat mayonnaise in this recipe, but it tends to get watery if it sits for too long, so you’ll want to serve this salad as soon as you’ve tossed it together. If you want to store the salad in the fridge until later in the day, use regular mayo as directed, or don’t mix and pour the dressing until just before you serve the salad.
- Mince the white part of the green onion with a chopping knife, but use kitchen shears to cut the green stems into small pieces, ¼-inch or less if possible.
- If your protein and iron needs are higher, you can also add some cooked, cooled chicken, pork or shrimp, about 1/3 cup per person. I keep precooked meats in the freezer for just this reason.
What I really liked about this Black Bean & Avocado Salad recipe is the fact that I had pretty much every ingredient in the pantry, fridge, or on my regular shopping list, even the beans—so convenient! It’s really easy to put together, which is always a plus. It’s versatile, too; if you like a veggie that’s missing from the ingredients list, just add what you like. Happy summertime, and ciao for now!
Reviewed by Anne