Article: Cowboy salad is a versatile and economical recipe

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“What recipes do you make all the time?” is a question that students and friends ask me on a regular basis. While it is hard to choose just one, my Cowboy Salad is a great place to start! Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it is consistently delicious, amazingly versatile, economical and features one of my very favorite foods… BEANS!    In honor of the recent airing of a California Bountiful TV segment about heirloom beans, featuring Chip and Bobbie Morris, Jerry Fry and me in the kitchen, I thought it was the perfect time to share!  While you can make my Cowboy Salad with nearly any bean, I absolutely love using Chip and Bobbie’s Calypso or Black Valentine varieties, grown locally (www.elegantbeans.com).

After scanning the recipe below, you may realize that you have had something similar in the past, perhaps called Cowboy Salsa or even Cowboy Caviar, but you might not have realized how versatile it could be and learning about my husband’s typical lunch might provide some useful insight. Although my husband “knows” that my crazy salad mix is “ridiculously good for him,” he is not a guy who naturally gravitates towards big bowls of green leafy vegetables. So, how is it that he enjoys a very impressive combination of well over 20 different vegetables at lunch each day? It is all about the dressing!  A former fan of “ranch” dressing, I knew that if I was going to “sell” this salad, the dressing had to pack a big flavor punch without adding unhealthful ingredients. After experimenting with a couple different options, one day he tried using my Cowboy Salad and hasn’t looked back! While he uses it as “his” dressing, the whole family loves it as a dip for raw veggies, like jicama chips, bell pepper strips, zucchini rounds, celery boats, or whole grain crackers/chips. We also use is as a filling for delicious wraps made from lettuce, cabbage, steamed collard greens, or whole grain tortillas, with the addition of chopped fresh spinach, shredded carrot and more!

The Nutrition Professor’s Cowboy Salad with Calypso Beans
I hope that this recipe becomes a staple in your house, too, as it will keep well for at least a week in the back of the fridge, and beans are, after all, the single food most strongly associated around the globe, with living a long, healthy life! Although my husband uses this recipe “as is” for his salad dressing, I love vinegar, so I add a splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar to my greens before mixing in the cowboy salad. Don’t forget that it can also be enjoyed as a dip with jicama chips* or crunchy veggies or in a wrap!
(makes 8 servings ~ ¾ cup each)

Ingredients:
1 avocado, diced into small pieces
3 cups of your favorite salsa* – pureed with an immersion blender if chunky
1 cup of corn (fresh from 2 ears or frozen)
3 cups of your favorite cooked beans (Try local heirloom beans – www.elegantbeans.com)
1 large lime – zest AND juice*

Procedure:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to zest* the lime, ideally with a microplane, before cutting it into quarters to squeeze it for the juice. Store in an airtight container in the back of the refrigerator.

Nutrition Info (~3/4 cup): 144 kcals, 3 g Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 24 g CHO, 7 g Fiber, 8 g Protein, 196 mg Sodium (will vary depending on salsa used), 526 mg Potassium, 51 mg Calcium, 2 mg Iron

Shop Smart, Prep Smart, Cook Smart Tips:
*If you use a chunky salsa, you might want to puree it with an immersion blender before adding it to the recipe, especially if you plan to use it as a salad dressing.

*Make your own delicious jicama “chips” by peeling and slicing jicama into planks/chips into ¼” thick, and marinate in copious amounts of freshly squeezed lemon juice! Keep in the refrigerator and enjoy their crunchy texture and refreshing flavor all week long!

If you haven’t tuned in for California Bountiful (airing locally on Ch 10, Sundays at 5:30pm), it is a fun and entertaining weekly show featuring interesting and educational segments about food and agriculture, filmed locally, as well as throughout our state. Visit www.CaliforniaBountiful.com for access to a broadcast schedule and archives of previous shows, including the one about local heirloom beans grown by Chip Morris and Mohr-Fry Farms.

Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.

Read my article as published in the Lodi News Sentinel.

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