I love spicy salads. The first time I ever had one–a really spicy one–was at Mooncake Foods. They serve their salads with homemade dressings, and everything on the menu with a side of jalepeño garlic sauce. For the longest time, I thought that lush, green sauce was the dressing and I would douse my salad with it. There was something so satisfying about paring cool, crunchy vegetables with intense spiciness, and I was hooked.
Another pepper I love is chipotles. They are not just spicy, but also smoky–flavors I crave year-round. I always pick the dried ones, available at Latin markets, over the canned ones. They have a more intense, smoky flavor without the extra additives or metallic taste. I use them to make spicy vegan mayo, creamy pasta sauce, marinades and salsa.
…And now, salad dressing. (The next step must be dessert.) This is a quick and flavorful weekday lunch, kind of a modern take on old school 3-bean salad. I used canned beans, but a fellow food blogger brought up this good point: ‘Why Don’t you try soaking & cooking your own beans? It’s cheaper & healthier. I make big batches & freeze in manageable portions.’ Great advice!
Chipotle Bean Salad1 can black beans, or 2 cups soaked and cooked dry beans 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and chopped 1 handful cilantro, chopped dressing: 1 small dried chipotle pepper, stemmed & chopped zest of half a lemon 3 tbp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced 1 clove garlic
sea salt, to taste to garnish: sprigs of cilantro optional: 1 tbp sesame seeds
Heat 1/3 cup water in a small pot. When it is simmering, add the chipotle pepper pieces and simmer a few minutes until rehydrated. Transfer both the water and pepper to a blender. (If you want it less spicy, add half and then taste test recipe. Add as necessary.)
Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth and emulsified. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Toss dressing with the beans, green beans and cilantro in a medium bowl. Serve salad on a bed of rice, pasta or lettuce. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and sesame seeds, for extra crunch.
This also travels well and would make a great side dish all by itself to bring to a potluck for spicy food lovers.