I was among last December’s participants in one of our wellness center’s many incentive programs, Maintain Don’t Gain. I found that the program’s weekly weigh-in helped me avoid holiday weight gain by holding me accountable and, more important, letting me adjust my diet and work-out routines as needed.
I was also one of the lucky winners in the program’s prize drawing, in which I received Catherine Walthers’ tasty tome, Raising the Salad Bar. I’ve only begun to plumb its pleasures, but I recommend it for its practical basic tips, its encouragement to eat our recommended nine fruits and vegetables each day, and its emphasis on fresh ingredients and make-your-own dressings and vinaigrettes. The book serves up a great variety of colors, textures and flavors, with chapters like “Not Your Mother’s Potato Salads,” “Main Course Meat Salads” and “Good-for-you Grains.”
The book also inspires one to stop thinking of salads as only summer fare. Today’s recipe from Raising the Salad Bar is hearty, healthy and packed with flavors. Walthers suggests you serve it on a bed of fresh greens, rolled in a soft flour tortilla, incorporated in your favorite chili recipe or layered onto a flour tortilla with shredded cheese, then folded and grilled as a quesadilla. Enjoy!
Mexican sweet potato and black bean salad
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Kernels from 3-4 ears of fresh corn, or 2 cups frozen kernels
- 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (canned is fine)
- 3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 chipotle chile from a can of chipotles in adobo
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons Thai sweet chile sauce
- 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato chunks with the oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle with coriander, cumin, chile powder and salt and toss again. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are golden at the edges and just tender, 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the corn in a small amount of water for 3-5 minutes, or steam for 3-4 minutes. Drain excess water. Combine the corn and black beans in a large serving bowl.
To make the dressing, in a blender or food processor, place the chipotle chile, garlic and sweet chile sauce. Process until mixture is smooth. Add the lime juice and process again. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil and process dressing until it is emulsified.
When the sweet potatoes are done, let cool slightly and add them to the corn and beans. Add scallions and cilantro; gently toss. Pour enough dressing over the salad to just moisten the ingredients and toss again.