Some nights, I love to make fancier, time-consuming dinners. I am by no means a fast cook, so I like to give myself plenty of time to prepare a complicated meal, which often means starting dinner in the afternoon. Not that I mind it! There’s something so relaxing to me about spending time in the kitchen cutting, peeling, measuring, and cooking. However, life often gets in the way of my lengthy dinner-making plans and sometimes I just need to make something that’s quick and simple, but better than plain old pasta or baked chicken, two of my old stand-by fast meals.
Enter this rice & bean salad, which is full of fiber, protein, and lots of good southwest flavor! I like to think of this salad as a main course and side dish in one since it contains rice, beans, chicken, and corn. And it’s highly adaptable! Use whatever kind of rice you have on hand (quinoa or barley would also be great!), as well as whatever type of beans are in your pantry. Red onion can also be substituted for the green onions, lemon juice for the lime, etc. Furthermore, it all comes together in a flash; basically all you have to do is combine everything together. Aaand it can be served either warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Have I sold you on it yet? If not, let me mention that not only is this salad quick, easy, and changeable, it’s absolutely delicious! The dressing is slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and slightly spicy if you choose to add the chopped jalapeños. It lightly coats the hearty rice, beans, and chicken, and you get even get a bit of veggies from the corn and green onion. My mom summed it up pretty well by commenting that this was “the perfect dinner.” You don’t have to wait for a busy night to throw this southwest salad together…make it ASAP!
Southwest Rice & Bean Salad
5 cups cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast (about 2 medium breasts)
1 12-oz can corn, drained
4 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1 large lime (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 Tbs finely diced jalapeño pepper (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Combine rice, salt, beans, chicken, corn, and green onions in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, chili powder, and cumin until smooth. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Salad can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Serves 8-10.
(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)