salad days: southwest bean & pasta salad

One of the qualities that my husband admires in me is my resourcefulness. He thinks I have the ability to turn what seems like nothing into something wonderful. I hate being wasteful and I’m thrifty by nature, so being resourceful just seems to come naturally. It’s kind of like creative work in that respect. If I’m working on a design project where I have free reign to do what I want and no restrictions to hold me back, it can make the whole process seem way too easy. But throw in a couple of contraints and left turns and then I’ve got a real creative struggle. Many times, that’s where some of my best work comes from. Looking for ideas in the kitchen can be the same. If your fridge is full and your cupboards are stacked, well, looking for inspiration is easy! But when you knock choice out of the equation, that’s when your skills in making something out of nothing can really shine.

This past week, I made a couple salads just by throwing stuff into a bowl and calling in dinner. Salad #1 turned out pretty good. I shredded up some leftover cabbage, diced up some leftover jicama, carefully diced a lonely jalapeno and a sweet red pepper, and tossed everything with fresh orange slices, dried cherries, toasted walnuts and mustard/lime dressing. Not bad. It filled our bellies, tasted fresh and bright and I’ll bet it would have tasted a hundred times better with some crumbled feta cheese. Next time.

Salad #2, however, was a wild success. A weird jumble of pasta, beans, lettuce and a super simple yet hella good vinegrette. Sure, this salad ain’t fancy but it’s perfect for those days cooking doesn’t seem like an option and all you want to do is watch America’s Next Top Model with a big bowl of something awesome on your lap. And by awesome, I mean this salad. If you do make this salad, throw in some diced avocados. That’s what I’m gonna do next time. Or just throw in what you’ve got on hand and make it better.

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8 comments to “salad days: southwest bean & pasta salad”

  1. 1
    Joanne   May 3, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Salads are fantastic! Salads that can pass as complete meals are awesome!!

    I can totally relate to this posting:

    When I was dating my husband, I would visit him in his basement apartment for dinner, and seek out something to whip up with the minimal items in his refrigerator, typical bachelor contents, i.e. a jar of mustard, wilting carrots, a can of beans, etc. I came up with some of the most amazing ideas for one-pot meals and salads.

    My husband always thought I picked up groceries, but when I told him I made the meal with what he had in his fridge and cupboard, he was always amazed.

    It’s definitely got something to do with having creative flair and resourcefulness and ‘thinking outside the box.’

    I’m glad to see we share in this talent :D

  2. 2
    be11curves   May 3, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    i’m all about salads! especially in summertime. you can definitely be creative w/ them. and *you* certainly make some very appetizing looking salads.

  3. 3
    Amy   May 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    You are resourceful! I’m always amazed at the combinations you come up with and feel terrible about the amount of food I throw away. I keep meaning to mention: I made the blood orange roasted chicken recipe you posted months ago and it was absolutely fabulous–probably the best roast chicken I’ve ever made. I boiled the remains for stock and even the stock was something special. So thanks!

  4. 4
    Larissa   May 3, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    My new favorite thing with salads is warm, grilled veggies (sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, etc.) on top a bed of lettuce with dijon vinaigrette. So yummy!

  5. 5
    maryse   May 4, 2007 at 6:11 am

    those salads look yummy, especially your pasta salad. i’d finish it off with cilantro, but then i love cilantro with a sick passion.

  6. 6
    Sara   May 4, 2007 at 7:53 am

    delicious! love reading your blog kickpleat, you have the best food.

  7. 7
    kickpleat   May 4, 2007 at 9:21 am

    joanne, meal salads are great and being resourceful is even better :)

    be11curves, salads are best in summer! thanks.

    amy, glad you loved that roast chicken recipe! i still do manage to throw away food (like that melted bunch of cilantro that hid in the back of the fridge) but i hate myself for it!

    larissa, that sounds lovely! will definitely have to try that out before it gets too hot to use the oven.

    maryse, cilantro would be great in this and if i had some, it would have definitely made an appearance ;)

    aww shucks, sara, you are too kind.

  8. 8
    Susan   June 1, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I just made this salad and it is absolutely delicious. It will be good for lunches this week. Thanks for the recipe!

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