by Julie Snyder
The wind's howling. You can hear wee ghosts and goblins in the distance. Your own spook-tacular troop is anxious to head out into the neighborhood.
First, fill them up with a haunting Halloween dinner. Start with swamp creatures (macaroni baked in muffin tins and served over sauteed spinach, topped with olive slice eyes) or a mummy loaf (your favorite meat loaf, shaped like a mummy, baked and "wrapped" in cheese with olive eyes peering out).
Serve a scoop of the orange, green and black Halloween three bean salad. It's made with orange peppers and fresh green beans for crunch. The black beans and black-eyed peas might represent a bat or a ghost if you give your child's imagination a bit of a boost.
Packed with enough protein to serve as a meatless main dish, it can balance out nutrients on this candy-fill night! Get out the ingredients a day early and toss together a bowl.
Halloween Three Bean Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: marinate overnight | Yield: 8 servings
• 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
• up to 1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
• 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• 1 pound green beans
• 1 15-ounce can black beans
• 1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 large orange pepper, sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl half full of ice water. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces and cook in the boiling water until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and add to the ice water.
Drain the green beans, pat dry and put in a medium bowl. Add the onion and orange pepper.
Drain and rinse the black beans and black-eyed peas. Add to the bowl and stir to mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegars, mustard, oil, salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the salad and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve with jack-o-lantern cheese burgers or mini pizza faces.
Are you thinking the idea is okay, but you'd prefer something just a little bit different? Feel free to experiment with the ingredients. These ideas can get you started!
Wasabi Japanese salad: Replace the green beans with shelled edamame and the black-eyed peas with fresh bean sprouts. Add 1/4 cup Japanese pickled ginger, minced. Instead of mustard, use a teaspoon of wasabi powder or paste and a tablespoon of soy sauce.
A Mexican flair: Use black beans, pinto beans and garbanzo beans. Add 10 ounces frozen corn and a diced avocado. For the marinade, substitute lemon and lime juice for the vinegar and add a dash of hot sauce and two dashes chili powder. Garnish with chopped cilantro, not parsley.
Go tropical: Toss out the mustard. Instead of vinegar in the marinade, use lime and fresh-squeezed orange juice and a dash of ground allspice. Add crushed pineapple, mandarin orange slices and a small green chili pepper. You'll want to use a couple green onions instead of an onion bulb. Garnish with chopped fresh mint instead of parsley.
How do you make your three bean salad?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.