Recipe: Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Cranberry Salad

So I played with my food again at work today. However, this time it was a little nerve-racking because of the fact that I’ve only been working at this job for 1 week. Regardless, I opened a can, chopped some stuff, and ended up with enough food for 2-3 lunches. You know how much I love it when that happens! And considering my recent imprudence during lunchtime (due to the fact that Andy Nguyen’s and all of its enlightened food is merely 1/2 a block away), it felt good to make something healthy and delicious for less than my favorite Zen-inspired noodles.

The ingredient combo is a tad unconventional but very tasty nonetheless. As usual with my work meals, I wanted to make use of leftovers, and the 1/3 bag of frozen diced sweet potatoes was just begging to be used. I’d thrown the black beans in my bag by mistake but realized they might actually go well with the sweet potatoes if I played around with them enough. I felt a sweet & tangy dressing would complement both quite well. Texturally, however, I knew I had to throw in something a little chewy or crispy, lest I end up with a mushy meal. So I played and I played and ended up with the following salad that features black beans, sweet potatoes, green onions, and cranberries, all in a simply sweet rice vinaigrette.

My tastebuds were happy and my office mates commended me for my healthy lunch, as they dug in to their sandwiches or Chinese food. I briefly told them what I do outside of my day job and warned them that random food photography might happen. They all smiled at me like I was a little silly, but I take comfort in the fact that I not only saved money for the rest of the week when it comes to lunch, but I did end up with a couple of new readers, too.:)

Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Cranberry Salad (Makes 3 servings; Total cost per serving: ~ $1.25)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ c diced sweet potatoes (should be about ½” in size)
4 green onions (tops & greens), chopped
¼ c dried cranberries
2 T rice vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 T agave nectar (honey will work, too)
¼ t ground black pepper
Dash of salt

Prepare the dressing by combining the rice vinegar, lemon juice, agave nectar, pepper, and salt in a small bowl and whisking together well. In a larger bowl or container, combine the black beans, diced sweet potatoes, green onions, and cranberries and toss together gently. Add the dressing and mix together well. Serve with greens or by itself, add some chopped nuts (if you have ‘em) for extra crunch, and enjoy!

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