Thursday, June 7, 2012

Taste of Summer: Black Bean Mango Salsa, Cilantro Lime Brown Rice & a Little Bruschetta for Good Measure

Ready or not, summer is HERE kids! I dunno about you, but for me that means weekends beach-bumming it in MTK, bonfires, bbqs, and light & refreshing summer meals! Last week lifelong friend Andrea & I decided to whip up a quick meal with ingredients we both happen to have lying around. I was planning on preparing my black bean mango salsa and cilantro lime brown rice for a post. Andrea was craving her mom's addicting bruschetta & happen to come across some great all-natural chicken sausage at the market. Add in a glass of Mionetto Il Spr!z (yes that's how it's spelled) blood orange apertivo, and life really can't get any better. The combination was delightfully refreshing and equally satisfying. It was SO successful in fact, that for a solid 5 minutes, our ENTIRE conversation consisted of "WOW, that was REALLY good." "Like REALLY, REALLY good." "I can't believe how GOOD that was." Hahaha! But don't take our word for it. Try it for yourself to see how great it REALLY is!

Our impromptu dinner party started with a quick and easy appetizer. Bruschetta is basically a delicious tomato salad, crusty bread for dipping included, made bite-size. Now usually I would research my nerdy butt off to find a delicious, satisfying & healthier alternative to whatever original ingredients are called for. But in this case I'm pulling out the Ginzo card. I'm a sucker for Italian bread of any kind, in particular a seeded and/or semolina loaf. So, we just cut the portion size a bit. 2 small pieces per person was more than enough, especially with all the yumminess to come in the next course. Also, the leftover bruschetta mixture is a great salad on its own, and even better as a topping to grilled chicken or a firm, white fish. Andrea made a ginormous size batch because she was preparing to give some to friends and family & to save some for herself for the week. I've attempted to cut it down to a 5 person recipe. Tweak as desired.

Yields 5 servings; 70 calories per serving; 2.3g fat per serving
  • 10 - 1/2" thick slices of good Italian bread
  • 1 Beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 5 basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
Slice bread and set aside*. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil (make sure to save any juices from tomatoes & add in as well). Add oil, vinegar, oregano, salt & pepper and mix thoroughly. Spoon a small amount of juices from bottom of bowl onto bread. Top with about 2 tablespoons of tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

* We didn't do it this night, but I suggest toasting the bread before hand. It adds texture and gives all those yummy juices somewhere to hang.

Once again, I cannot take credit for the creative genius that is this Black Bean Mango Salsa. More of a salad than a salsa, it too has become a summer staple of the Montauk Moms. Loosely based on a recipe one of them came across many moons ago, it is a great side dish to any protein: chicken, fish, steak or pork (trust me, we've literally tried it ALL). The combination of sweet, salty, sour & spice makes it addicting. Make it ahead of time to let the flavors marry, and try some add-ins like roasted corn left over from last night's dinner (my personal favorite).

Yields 5 servings; 155 Calories per serving; 3.3g of Fat per serving

  • 2 Cups cooked & drained black beans (or 1-16 oz can of black beans, rinsed & drained)
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers finely minced (ribs & seeds removed)
  • 2Tbs cilantro, finely minced
  • 1-2 limes, juiced (depending on juiciness)
  • 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt to taste
Combine beans, mango, onion, jalapeno, & cilantro in bowl. Add lime juice, EVOO and salt. Incorporate well & set aside at least 15 minutes for flavors to marry.

Next at bat is my mind-blowingly simple Cilantro Lime Brown Rice. Its 3 simple ingredients, but it makes a boring side dish into something to crave & look forward to. You can really substitute any herb and/or citrus in this dish. Lemon & juice, sesame oil & some lemongrass or Thai basil...coconut milk (or coconut water if you're watching the fat), coriander & some fresh mint...whatever, GO NUTS! I do use organic low sodium broth to cook my brown rice. If you are cooking with water, you may want to season your rice a bit more aggressively. I've also found that using a little less liquid creates a drier rice, which is what you want in this dish, as too moist of a rice + lime juice added after can make a gummy mess if you over-saturate & over-mix.

Yields 5 servings; 117 Calories per serving; 1g of Fat per serving
  • 2.5 Cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 limes, juiced 
  • 2tbs cilantro, chopped fine
Cook rice per package directions. While rice is still warm, add lime juice & cilantro. Lightly toss & fluff with fork. Serve immediately.

check out those ingredients, every one of them is pronounceable!
We could have surely made an entire meal of just the above dishes, but Andrea had wanted to try out the new Cajun andouille chicken sausage she had picked up at Fairway. And let me tell you, what a spiffy and spicy addition it was! Bilinski's Cajun Andouille Chicken Sausage is all-natural & made from antibiotic-free raised chicken, with skinless casings, as well as being preservative-free, as well as gluten & wheat free. They're fully cooked - just brown & serve! At 90 calories & 4.5g of fat per link, they are a wonderful go-to item when you're in a time crunch, or just having a lazy day.

And what summer dinner party would be complete without a light and refreshing beverage? Andrea introduced me to a wonderfully light & crisp aperitivo by popular prosecco brand, Mionetto called IL SPR!Z. As sparkling wines go, Il Spri!z has a lovely & natural orange aroma & taste, slighlty sweet with a hint of a bitter finish. At under 100 calories a glass and 8% alcohol content, it truly is a delightful accompaniment to pretty much anything!

Notes: Not sure if you've been calorie counting all the way down this post. If not, let me give you the shockingly manageable grand total. For an appetizer, main dish AND drink, this entire meal came out to be 532 calories and 11 grams of fat. Not too shabby, considering what you absent-mindedly put away during a lunch at some mediocre chain restaurant or, a night out with friends for a meal & a few drinks! 


  1. totally going to be picking up that drink next time ;) funny bc i totally made something similar for dinner last night- pearl barley, black beans, corn, red onion, mango and lime juice (and salt of course) the mango addition is just surprising yum.

    was actually surprised to see you used vinegar in the bruschetta- im gunna have to try that next time!

    1. Thanks Bri! Omg, u really need to try that drink..its addicting! And yes, mango is a great sweet component to add to savory dishes. As far as the vinegar goes, I usually don't add it to my tomato salad or bruschetta, but my friend did, and it amped up the flavor a bit. Unexpected but really quite good!

  2. omg thank you for sharing :)
    seems sooo tasty!!

  3. Anytime! Thanks for stopping by! & stay tuned...there's MUCH more to come! :)