When I was stopping at Cracker Barrel for lunch on my way out of Virginia (a tradition for me) I saw a shirt that said something to the effect of: Virginia: South but not too South. An interesting concept. Virginia is indeed below the Mason-Dixon line, but it would be inaccurate to lump it in with many of the states below it. It is pretty diverse as a state with some serious and important urban areas near DC, then some western wilderness if you will, and my neck of the woods which is pleasant and residential and beachy out towards Virginia Beach.
There is, however, one difference I noticed when I moved there that has to be a Southern thing. The salads. I grew up with the concept of a salad being mostly composed of greens, plus a few accessories. I have learned that greens (lettuce, that is), is not even a required ingredient in southern salads. There are salads of many varieties that don’t involve lettuce at all: cucumber, chicken, potato, pasta, bean, tuna… I’ve heard of and experienced some of these variations in the past, but have not experienced the pervasive nature of these dishes until moving to the south. They are everywhere you look!
I’m torn because though there are some nutritious aspects to these dishes, I’m pretty sure that they remove a lot of the healthy benefits of the green salad. I’m not so thrilled with the abundance of dressing and starch if I’m looking for a light option.
But as the saying goes: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Below is pretty healthy version of a bean salad that was actually passed along to me by a nutritionist I’ve seen in the past. Don’t quote me on the nutritional facts, but with the lighter dressing and several healthy components, it’s hard to go wrong! It’s a great side dish for a backyard barbecue!
Black Bean Salad
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 15 oz. can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup corn (frozen niblets is easiest)
- 1 chopped bell pepper
- 10 chopped cherry tomatoes
- parsley to garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wisk together vinegar, oil, garlic, lemon juice, and sugar.
- Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper. Toss with dressing. Garnish with parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.
PS- My favorite summer commercial. I can’t get enough of it!