If you're itching for fresh-tasting meals and snacks that sing of warmer weather, come sit by me. We may still be many weeks away from the perfectly ripe, colorful, and unbelievably flavorful produce that is one of the great joys of spring and summer, but we can make this work. Produce from the super-grocer may not have that brain-tingling flavor, but it is crisp, juicy, and undeniably pretty. And smoothing over life's imperfections is what your spice rack is for.
Grab a can of hearty black beans and a generous scoop of sweet-tart pineapple chunks. Chop a red pepper and a cucumber along with some cilantro. Whisk together a simple dressing of olive oil and lime juice spiced up with cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, and a little chipotle powder. Take a taste and know at once that you'll be making this blissfully sweet and savory salad again and again.
Serve it like a salsa with chips (taro, tortilla, pita, or whatever you're craving). If you're feeling froggy, add a little minced jalapeno or serrano pepper.
Or spoon it over toast with mashed avocado or a garlic-spiked bean spread for extra protein. (The light and sweet nature of this works great with earthy multi-grain or whole-wheat bread varieties.) Or eat it by the spoonful. That works, too.
Black Bean-Pineapple Salad with a Spiced Lime Vinaigrette
1 15-oz can black beans
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks, thawed
1 small-medium red bell pepper
1 small-medium cucumber
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP lime juice
1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
Drain beans and rinse well in a sieve. Set aside to let drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, chop pineapple chunks into smaller chunks (app. 1/2 inch pieces) and transfer to a serving or mixing bowl. Trim, seed, and chop pepper into scant 1/2-inch dice and add to bowl. Seed cucumber and chop into scant 1/2-inch dice and add to bowl. Chop cilantro and add to bowl. Add beans to bowl.
Whisk together oil, lime, and all spices until thoroughly combined. Pour over salad and toss well. Serve.