I've talked about spinach before here. How I don't quite like it. How, by itself, it basically tastes like dirt and, despite being an experimental eater as a child (clover, carrots dipped in milk, paper), I was never into putting dirt in my mouth.
Well, that's kind of changed. The not really being into spinach thing - not the putting dirt in my mouth (I do not endorse dirt in the mouth. That would be unpleasant and unhygienic). So I have been putting a lot of spinach in my mouth lately - in the form of smoothies and, just recently, saag paneer (I never knew wilted spinach could taste so good - so good!), but mostly, in the form of this salad. It combines some of my favourite things - avocado, cumin, cilantro - and makes consuming a ginormous pile of greens exciting. Okay, maybe just to me it's exciting. But in my defence, I don't really have a life. I just read The Hunger Games trilogy in three days this week - that's how much of a life I have. Also shows how I make responsible, grown-up Life Choices. Such as staying up past 2 a.m. reading a young adult novel.
But I digress. I was talking about spinach. Why this sudden obsession with Popeye's favourite veg? (Well, aside from my neurotic fears that if I don't eat green things my limbs might start falling off, I'll go blind, or Stephanie Meyer will write another Twilight book.) One word: Chinatown. And 3 lb bags of spinach for $3.99. No joke. I couldn't say no to that kind of deal. And I was determined to bring more greens into my life. And with 3 lbs of spinach, I would have to eat tons of greens.
And so this salad was born. I haven't stopped eating greens since.
Spinach & Black Bean Salad, with Sweet & Tangy Cumin Lime Dressing
I like to use kamut, wheat, or spelt berries in this salad because, aside from their nutritional value, they have a sturdier texture than rice, quinoa or millet that works well in this salad, and I love their nutty flavour. They do require a little planning ahead, but you can cook up a large batch that you'll then have on hand for the rest of the week. However, you can try replacing them with barley or brown rice if you'd rather.
1/2 cup Cooked Black Beans (canned are fine)
1/2 cup Cooked Kamut, Wheat, or Spelt Berries
1/2 heaping cup Halved Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (or 2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced)
1/2 an Avocado, chopped
Scant 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped (use less or omit if you're not a cilantro fan)
2 - 3 cups Baby Spinach
This dressing gets a good tangy kick from the vinegar and lime juice, but is rounded out with the addition of a little sweetener. The measurements here, however, are estimates (I usually measure things in "splashes" when I make dressings) so feel free to play around with the amounts to your taste.
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Honey, Agave Nectar, or Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Cayenne (optional - add if you like heat!)
Salt, to taste
1. To cook the kamut, wheat, or spelt berries, soak 1 cup of berries in 3 cups of water for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once soaked, drain and rinse the berries, then bring to a boil in a pot with 3 cups of water, then turn down the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 - 60 minutes. When cooked, the berries should still be chewy, but soft. Drain the cooked berries and keep stored in the fridge for up to a week. 1 cup uncooked berries equals approximately 2 1/2 cups cooked. If you're also using dried black beans (my personal preference) the cooking method is almost identical to that of the berries, just be sure to soak the beans for at least 8 hours. They can also be stored, refrigerated, for 5 - 7 days.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.
2. Add black beans, grains, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro to the dressing and toss to coat. Stir in the spinach, transfer to a serving dish (or not, if you want to save dishes) and eat up! Embrace the green.