I can’t remember the last time I watched my TV. I only went to the movie theaters during Hot Docs and the Toronto International Film Festival. Not to catch the blockbuster that will be out next week, rather the international movies that I would not be able to watch otherwise. My favourite movie is Life is Beautiful, but The Diving Bell and The Butterfly comes close.
But when I look for recipes, I am drawn to tried-and-true recipes, from reputable chefs like Claudia Roden, the Moosewood Collective or from sites like Epicurious. I don’t have any cookbooks from Rachael Ray, although I have tried her penne alla vodka recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.
However, move over guys, I have a new favourite cookbook: Radiant Health, Inner Wealth by Quintessence Challis. An indie cookbook if I have ever seen one, and I was drawn to it by its high praises in the cookbook review section on vegweb. Comments from each recipe are compiled (and continue to be added) and nearly every one was positive. I cringed at it being plugged as a weight loss cookbook on its website, but bought it anyways since the recipes intrigued me. I am all about the tasty, healthy recipes, right?
The first recipe I tried was a black bean, cilantro and apricot salad. I adapted it slightly since I did not use corn and increased the carrot. I started with freshly cooked black beans, and then added sweet, chopped dried apricots and crunchy carrots. A little bit of zing came from the green onion and ginger, and more subtle sweetness came from the mango nectar. A bit of acidity from lemon juice, and this was golden.
The next day, when I tasted it, I was floored. This was an “Oh my gosh, this salad is SO GOOD” moment (it really needs the overnight marinade, by the way). There was enough extra marinade that it was used as the dressing once the spinach was added. I never would have thought to pair all these ingredients together, but the spinach was the perfect accent. It was a great lunch for work, since I packed the spinach separately. Filling, tasty and healthy – what else could you want?
I am thrilled to have found this cookbook, but sad that I didn’t get Tess’ second cookbook at the same time (only $5 more). I thought it was all about planning meals (heck, I can do that!) but it also has 80 recipes. Next time! 😀
Updated to add: I prefer this with more beans, so I have updated the recipe to use 2×14 oz cans of beans. It is also lovely with freshly squeezed orange juice instead of the mango juice.
Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad
2-3 cups cooked black beans (or 2x14oz or 1×19 oz cans drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup mango nectar or juice (I have used fresh orange juice too, which is good!)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or lime juice) – I used lemon but I am sure lime would be even better
1/2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups baby spinach
1. Combine black beans, dried apricots, carrots, cilantro and green onions in a large bowl.
2. In a separate small bowl, combine mango juice, olive oil, lemon juice, tamari, ginger, garlic and salt. Mix well.
3. Toss marinade with bean mixture and marinade in the refrigerator for at least several hours.
4. To serve, bring to room temperature and toss with the spinach.