A Refreshing Summer Salad

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May 17th, 2010

Did you know that some studies claim salad dressing is the number one source of fat for women?  Many people don’t realize just how easy it is to whip up a healthy salad dressing. If you’ve got olive oil, vinegar, pure Canadian maple syrup, salt and pepper in the house, you’ve got everything you need.

Because maple syrup is thicker in consistency, you’ll be able to use less oil. In many recipes, the quantity of olive oil called for is so large because it’s being used for texture as much as taste.

When you’re improvising a dressing at home – say a balsamic vinaigrette  – start with a Tablespoon of pure maple syrup, add two Tablespoons of vinegar and whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste and two teaspoons of olive oil.  Depending on your preferences, you can add a bit more oil and maple syrup as you need, measuring and tasting between additions to achieve the perfect blend.

This salad recipe can be made the night before and is fantastic leftover. It can also be made in a hurry if your pantry is well stocked. A few of the ingredients may sound a little exotic, but all of them can be found in gourmet or specialty Asian markets.

The salad is quite filling and covers the nutritional bases on its own but if you’ve got a crowd of people who enjoy meat or you just want to vary the recipe a little, add cubed grilled chicken breast or grilled shrimp.  Serving a substantial salad like this with four ounces of meat (very thinly sliced) is a great way to teach your family that it really is possible to be satisfied with normal portions.

If you’re entertaining, you can serve the salad in half a papaya, place a skewer of grilled shrimp over the top and then garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges for a fancier presentation.

You can also make a double batch and stuff tomorrow’s lunch box with Asian style wraps. Roll the salad into flour or corn tortillas and add a little sliced chicken!

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Spicy Black Bean Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 Servings


  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (available in the Oriental section of your market)
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons pure Canadian maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon chili paste or chili flakes to taste (also can be found in the Oriental section)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger


  • 3 cups cooked black beans or 2 – 15 oz. cans, rinsed and drained beans
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into ¼” slices
  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and cut into ½” chunks
  • 3 thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

Prepare the dressing. In a small non-reactive bowl, whisk together lime juice, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil, fish sauce, chili paste (or flakes) and ginger. Taste and adjust seasonings with pure maple syrup as necessary. The amount used will vary from person to person. You’ll know when it’s perfect!

Prepare the salad. In a large non-reactive bowl, place black beans, cucumber, mango, scallions and cilantro. Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat well. Serve with cilantro sprigs and extra lime wedges.

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