I love bold flavors. I love bold looks. And I love bold attitudes. In my world, that’s just how I get things done. I’m nice, but just have to assert myself sometimes, you know!
As a way of thanking my small circle of daily supporters and doers for keeping me in place and reminding me that life is much bigger than a mere missed phone call, I prepared a small and intimate dinner for them. It was simple at best, but just what I wanted. Sis was in town and it was great to have her experience my loco life for 5 days. So I invited the usual suspects and a few more for a last minute Christmas Dinner. Lawyer. Cooking Asst. Manager. Banker. DJ. And Don from Mr. Orph’s Kitchen.
I hadn’t come up with a menu until the day before, but I knew chicken was going to be the protein. I’d been eating a lot of red meat as of late, and desperately needed to take a break. And more increasingly, am I meeting people that just don’t eat it. Pollo it was. I concocted a variation of an orange chicken I made here. Only this time, I played around with spices. I omitted the soy sauce and achiote. Actually, it was such a last minute recipe, that as I sit here and write, I have no recollection of what I did.
But the chicken fell off the bones, and that’s all that counts, right!
(attacking the chicken!)
In addition to the chicken, I made plantains, a sinfully delicious yellow saffron rice (with a powerful garlic sofrito) and pan Cubano. All in some kick butt Gucci pumps! Yup! Sure did. Don’t ask how I didn’t splatter my dress. Don made this incredible spinach dip as an appetizer that didn’t last more than 10 minutes. He almost put my spicy beef stuffed yuca balls to shame! Okay not so much, but it was smack yo’ momma good!
And then there was this salad. My good friend Simone is just about as Cuban as I am. She’s Brazilian but raised in the most typically Cuban neighborhood of Miami. The girl talks like me in Spanish and knows all of our food, probably better than her own. Well, she’s got this salad she made for me once that put me in deep like with red beans. I’m not a huge fan of the kidney look-a-like, but when you doctor them up the way she does, I’m fair game! It’s been so popular with me that I’ve made it in one of my cooking classes.
Another smash hit.
So for my soiree I had Simone make the salad. You might think it’s nothing big, because after all you can use canned beans. But, between the crunch of the green pepper, the aromatic flavor of the cilantro and juice of the olive oil and vinegar, it’s like having dessert before dinner. Or for those of us that don’t like traditional green leaf salads (like myself), this is a killer option!
Canned beans are good only because they are already cooked and have some flavor. They are ready to be eaten but of course if you want to have something more flavorful and elaborate, they require some doctoring and even some more cooking. If I’m making canned black beans (ONLY b/c I don’t have time for even pressure cooking fresh ones), I’ll make a sofrito and add my usual spices. In this salad’s case, none of that is required! Drain the beans, chop up your vegetables, add your oils, flavoring agents, etc… and combine.
It’s simple. It’s super fast being under 10 minutes to make! It’s good as hell. And it’s healthy. It’s BOLD, baby. Just the way I like it. Make it for your next dinner or your next dinner party. No one will be disappointed. Oh yeah, and it’s great over plain white rice, too! Those juices, I tell you!
Doesn’t it just look good! Below is my version of her recipe.
Thanks to Don who took awesome pictures that night! These were from him.
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SIMPLE KIDNEY BEAN SALAD
- 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 green or red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 cup cilantro, rough chop
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon or lime
Rinse beans. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with crostini or as a side dish. Serve chilled or room temperature.