I learned that beans are great in salads from a very young age. My mom, as I’ve written before, made something she called Texas Salad when I was growing up, and red kidney beans starred in it, along with iceberg lettuce, crushed Fritos, shredded cheddar and bottled French dressing. I loved it on the first day — not so much on Day 2, 3 or 4, if it lasted that long.
Many years ago, I celebrated her by updating it, using romaine, tortilla chips, feta, slow-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes and a delectable cilantro vinaigrette. And I switched from kidney to black beans. More recently, I’ve been making it with pintos instead. But all along, I’ve known the truth: With all that other great flavor and texture going on, the kind of beans here is possibly the least important thing.
Chickpeas would be swell, white beans would be good — and any number of less-common heirloom beans would bring their own special something to this party. If you’ve got leftover beans from the pot I suggested you make several weeks ago, all the better, but there’s no shame in opening a can.?Make it with what you have.
For the cilantro vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
For the salad:
1/2 cup peanut oil, for frying
Three (6-inch) corn tortillas
6 cups (about 8 ounces) lightly packed, torn romaine lettuce leaves
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added pinto beans (from one 15-ounce can), drained and rinsed
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta (see related recipe) or your favorite vegan or dairy feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the cilantro, olive and canola oils, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt in a blender; puree until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Make the salad: Line a plate with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add 2 or 3 tortillas (or as many as will comfortably fit); fry them on each side until crisp and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Lift each tortilla with tongs and let the excess oil drip off, then transfer it to the towel-lined plate. Working in batches if needed, repeat with the remaining tortillas. Let the tortillas cool, then break them into bite-size pieces.
In a large bowl, toss the tortilla pieces with the lettuce, beans, scallions, feta, tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Add the remaining vinaigrette, if desired, or reserve for another use.
Adapted from?“Cool Beans”?by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, 2020).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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More from Voraciously:
Calories: 465; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 408 mg; Carbohydrates: 44 g; Dietary Fiber: 13 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 13 g.