I’m always looking for quick but healthy lunches to make at work. The roach coach does try to cater to those of us not looking for the Cholesterol Special by offering a “Chef Salad” and it’s sweet of them to try. Sadly, there’s zero nutritional value in the pile of near-white iceberg lettuce, rings of ham, and a small sprinkle of shredded cheese, not to mention the 3 oz. a container of ranch dressing they give you on the side. I am not into the typical American salad because they end up being exactly this bland and fattening. And boring! I like my salads to be bright, colorful, filled with delicious ingredients I can pronounce (because I’m fairly certain that ranch dressing isn’t made with real buttermilk and spices) and that I know will not defeat the purpose of having a salad.
Part of the inspiration for this very simple, yet tasty salad also comes from the current weather. It’s cold, gray, and rainy, and I hate it. Not that I mind the occasional romantic foggy or rainy day so I can curl up in bed with the kitties and read a good book, but I like the sun. Sue me. Anyway, since I can’t have bright sunny weather, I figured I’d have a bright sunny lunch instead. There are many variations of black bean and corn salads out there, so this is not a groundbreaking experiment here. But the addition of tender avocado, green onions, ripe tomatoes, all tossed together with some crisp spinach just makes this variation colorful and fresh tasting. The best part is I had most of the ingredients here in our break room fridge anyway, so it was easy to put together.
NOTE: Had I been making this at home, I can guarantee that cilantro would have made its way into this dish immediately, but alas, I must make do without it. *sigh* Also, if you’re doing this at work like I am, you probably don’t have your full spice pantry at your disposal. Don’t think you have access to crushed red pepper flakes that add heat to this dish? Think again! Somewhere in the depths of the drawers in your break room, there are leftover packets of said crushed chili flakes from the last time a pizza was ordered. Just one of these little packets is the perfect amount for this salad. Think outside the box!
In a large bowl (or Ziploc container…. remember this is a work lunch so you may not have access to real dishes) combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, and avocado, and toss together gently (you don’t want the avocado to turn to mush). In a smaller bowl, whisk together lime juice, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Add dressing to the veggies. Tear spinach leaves into smaller, bite-sized pieces, add to the rest of the ingredients, toss together, and enjoy!
NOTE: This will probably make more than enough for 2 or 3 lunches, so only toss the spinach into what you’ll be eating that day and save the rest of the veggies for the next day’s lunch. And keep in mind you’ve just made yourself 3 days’ worth of lunch for under $7 – can’t beat that!