Cooking Without Cooking

It’s miserably hot in most of the Bay Area right now—even San Francisco was uncomfortable yesterday. Thank Dog for perpetually cool and windy Treasure Island.

Lots of “no cook” summer recipes actually do involve cooking, for instance, a cold pasta salad means cooking the pasta first. What’s up with that?

So here are some true no-cook recipes and tips on eating well in the hot weather.

– Bean Salad
– Black Bean and Corn Salad
– Hummus
– Garden Salad with Beet and Mustard Dressing

These are filling, nutrition recipes—good for your daily work lunches, or for that weekend BBQ party. The list is also an accidental Ode to the Canned Bean. Beans are good. Beans are great. Beans are cheap, filling, super nutritious, and a perfect weight-loss food.

Buying dried beans and cooking them yourself does make for a yummy pot of beans, but few people have the time or energy to cook something that takes 6 hours of simmering. There is a huge selection of cooked and canned beans in the market now. Organic or not, low-sodium or not, and every kind of bean you can imagine. My cupboard always has at least 4 different cans of beans to throw into a soup, a salad, or puree into hummus.

Bean Salad

This tasty and colorful salad served on a bed of lettuce is nice prepared in advance and chilled before serving.
11 oz. canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly under running water

Salt, to taste

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional) (use basil)
6 fresh lettuce leaves, optional

cilantro sprigs (optional—if you hate cilantro, replace with basil)

For the Vinaigrette:
1 tsp. sugar
Salt, to taste
2 tsp. olive oil
5 tsp. white vinegar

• Mix the beans with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro or basil.

• Mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and toss into the salad.
• Lay the lettuce leaves in a serving dish and pile the salad on a bed of lettuce leaves (optional).
• Arrange the cilantro or basil sprigs in the center and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Make this colorful salad a day in advance so the flavors will develop, then add the tomatoes right before serving.

2 cups cooked and canned black beans, drained

2 cups corn, drained
6 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (or juice of 1 lime)
5 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup scallions, minced
1/8 cup cilantro, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste

• Mix all ingredients, except the tomatoes, together.
• Add salt and pepper. Cover and chill.
• Shortly before serving, toss in the tomatoes.


This is a vegan staple. Either grab one of the many delicious ready-made varieties of hummus from the supermarket or make your own:

1 can chickpeas, drained

3 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. salt, optional

• Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor (or do the ‘chunky’ version by mashing them with a potato masher or fork) and mix until smooth.

• Eat in a sandwich, or as a dip with fresh veggies and tortilla chips.


Take salad to a new level. Yes, salad, the food all meat-eaters are afraid of (“I can’t go veg—I’d have to eat salad all the time!”). Salad can be so much more than lettuce, tomatoes, and heavy oil.

Take your biggest mixing bowl and fill it ¾ of the way with your favorite salad mix. Mesclun, romaine hearts, spinach…whatever you most enjoy.

Then add handfuls of:

*Canned, cooked beans like chickpeas or kidney beans
*Sunflower or sesame seeds
*Grated carrot
*Slice tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, broccoli and cauliflower
*Currants or raisins dried cranberries
*Diced avocado
*Artichoke hearts

Toss with a fabulous dressing (some ideas below) and then fill yourself up. You can eat 3-4 bowls of this yummy stuff without cooking or stressing about calories. Cold canned beans add great texture and flavor, and help fill you up without calories.

My favorite dressings:
*Annie’s Goddess Dressing
*Balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, small amount extra virgin olive oil
*Beet Dressing:

Beet and Mustard Dressing

Makes approximately 3 cups and lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge, although it is best eaten soon after making.

Roast 1 large yellow beet. Red ones will work, but try for the yellow ones first.
To roast, wash the beet and cut the top off. Place on a cookie sheet or glass pie plate and bake in a 350 degree oven until soft. The time varies, depending on the size of the beet and the oven. Test it in 30 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick or knife is easily inserted into the middle. If you’re going to roast one, you may as well roast several, because they’re delicious sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper, or tossed in salads or stir-fry’s.
Let cool and then the skins will slip off very easily. You can do this the day before.

In a blender, combine:

The beet, cut into chunks

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 heaping Tb mustard. I prefer Dijon.
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp dill (optional)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Blend until very smooth, stopping at least once to scrape down the sides. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your personal taste buds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.

You can replace the beet with roasted winter squash (butternut, kabocha, etc) or sweet potato.

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