Let me begin with a little apology – sorry I missed our recipe date in April! Between the coo-coo spinning out of control in the world at large as well as in the relatively small world of “work” and the weather going nuts with constant downpurs only being interrupted by snowfall following a system-crashing heatspike, I didn’t get to do much more in the kitchen than what was necessary to keep going. While taking pretty pictures or writing about what kept us functioning through that particularly tight-wound knot of hubbub wasn’t really an option, I did, of course, take the time to bring some good-vibey sunshine to our dinner table.
Heading that real-deal “Happy Meal” parade for quite a number of years by now is one of our shared all-time-favorite summery salad dishes – Hubby’s favourite salad and my favourite way to waltz with chicken on one plate~
You guys know I like cherry-picking the best from two worlds whenever I can, re-arranging them into yumtastic dishes that will take me back to the origins of the recipe at a moments’ notice and this recipe is one of those exact mind-travel inspiring types that have proven themselves perfectly capable of cutting through any bad weather, winter blues, summer heat, off-health or doom-and-gloomy clouds around our heads time and again – and here’s the scoop!
This dish actually came to be in two phases, disguised as puzzle and solution. I stumbled upon the puzzle while roaming the vast expanses of Tyria.
Not much to look at, really, but if you’re someone who never gave beans, or any legumes, for that matter, a second thought apart from when there were too many of the odd-textured, dry’ish red things interrupting your pot of Chili con Carne…? Grandma’s signature string bean salad kinda-sorta justified the existence of beans in general, but these three or four differently coloured kernels in a bowl left me at a loss for quite a while. Until phase two, the groundbreaking hint at the solution to the many-bean puzzle, was served to me in one of our favourite restaurants on this planet, the “O Forno” in Ponta do Pargo, Madeira. (Quick side-note: The things they do with a heap of coals, a brick fireplace and lovingly handled, top quality fresh ingredients can only be described as magic.) As I’m about to drool on my keyboard, I can only say: this is what I mean by mind travels and true happy meals~ Ok, pulling myself together now! Back to the Puzzle Solution Hint: O Forno’s signature Jerk Chicken with a warm/smoked bean salad to the side. While the salad was probably more on the baked beans side of things due to its trip through the fire, it reminded me of a) the fact that beans obviously don’t have to be boring and bland, b) of the aforementioned Tyrian recipe patiently waiting to be dealt with at home and c) that Jerk Chicken is a Caribbean speciality and beans pop up frequently in Caribbean cuisine in one way or another… And the plans for an excursion into Caribbean cuisine were born. A quest to un-snooze beans and to find an alternative dance partner for my own Jerk Chicken! And it would seem, going by my backflipping tastebuds and Hubby’s frequent requests, that particular quest has been completed with flying colors and in record time to boot – I hope you guys agree qith me on this~! Here goes:
The Jerk Chicken
For once, I’ll bve a little lazy about this and simply link to my original recipe for the chicken – nothing’s really changed apart from the fact that, by now, I religiously use organic chicken thighs instead of breast, deboned but the skin kept on. And I might be a little bit more generous with my interpretation of how high the heap on a teaspoon can be stacked before using a tablespoon might be easier~ Anyroad, here’s the link:
Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Leek Flatbreads and Pineapple Salad
The Carib-Bean Salad
Just a small note in advance – since I’ve first put this recipe together, the pandemic happened and small portion-sized tins of various beans have been replaced with family-sized ones on the supermarket shelves over here. This led me to the discovery that this particular salad makes for an excellent lunch on the two to three following days – it develops a notch over time and keeps surprisingly well! Also, since the bulk of these ingredients are tinned/dried or otherwise preserved, this is a wonderful emergency-pantry raid recipe~ And one other thing: the net weight in otherwise same-size bean tins apparently vary from brand to brand, so I listed the rinsed/net weight of the beans in question – this also makes it easier for those of you going with dred beans instead of tinned ones.
1 Large Red Onion, finely diced
300g Kidney Beans – or any other big red ones
300g Black Beans / Black Eyed Peas – or any other black ones
150g Haricots Verts or Edamame Beans – these are quite commonly found in the frozen veg section rather than the bean tin parade on the dry shelves~
150g Small White Beans or Broad Beans
3 Bay Leaves
1 Large/300g’ish Sweet Potato, diced to match the biggest of your beans
1 Fresh Mango, also diced to match the biggest of your beans (gotta love those broad white beans on a lazy day~)
3 Heirloom or 2 Oxheart Tomatoes, pulp removed and diced
3 Organic Limes, Juice and Zest
100ml Coconut Water
A Very Generous Pinch each of Salt, Pepper, Cayenne. Brown Sugar and Chili Flakes
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
50g Toasted Grated Coconut Flakes
1 Small Bunch of Parsley
1) Pop the bay leaves into a small pot of salted water turn the heat to medium and allow the infusion to work up a gentle simmer.
2) Add the sweet potato cubes to the simmering bay tea and cook them until they are tender.
3) If youre going with dried beans, simmer them according to the instructions on the package along with the bay leaves for some extra oomph as well.
4) Once they’re done, drain off the water, retrieve the bay leaves and allow the potato cubes to cool off a bit.
5) Add all the ingredients, minus the coconut flakes, into a very large mixing bowl (preferably one with a fitting lid) and snap on some CSI gloves if you like.
6) Scatter the coconut flakes on top of the pile – they are your indicators of “well combined” – and gently fold the colourful stack into eachother with your hands until an even coconut-dotting tells you everything is well combined!
7) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning of necessary – beans swallow up a lot of salt, so you might want to look out for that as well as the acidity balance – having an extra lime on hand never hurts~
8) Seal the bowl off with a lid or clingfilm and set it aside for at least 2-3 hours. If you’re prepping ahead or are looking at a new definition of “leftovers” thanks to unruly tin sizes, stash it in the fridge until you’re ready for more~
9) Serve this feast while the salad is cool and the chicken sizzling hot~! Aaaand possibly with a small rum to the side…