3 Simple no-cook dinners

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Black bean salad. (August 2012) Black bean salad. (August 2012) Photo Credit: Marge Perry

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Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

TIP To keep tortillas pliable, stack them on a plate and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, depending on your microwave.

Air-conditioning or not, it can be a welcome relief to stay away from the stovetop and oven on these dog days of summer.

All recipes make 4 servings.


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1 (15-ounce) can lower-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

4 ribs celery, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 mango, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 avocado

1 lime

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon roasted ground coriander

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

2 light whole-grain English muffins, split

1. Combine the black beans, celery, bell pepper, mango and tomatoes in a bowl.

2. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and cut 4 thin slices from it. Set the slices aside, rubbing the exposed surfaces lightly with the cut side of a lime. Chop the remaining avocado into 1/4-inch pieces and add to the black bean mixture.

3. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, cumin, paprika and coriander; whisk in the olive oil. Toss with the bean mixture.

4. Divide the cheese evenly among the 4 English muffin halves and place in the toaster oven to melt. When the cheese is melted, remove from the oven and top each with a slice of the avocado. Serve with the bean salad.

Nutritional analysis per serving 373 calories, 14 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 15 g fiber, 19 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 311 mg sodium



2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces)

1 (8 ounce) whole-wheat baguette, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces

2 peaches, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces plum tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1/3 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the chicken, bread, peaches, tomato, basil and onion in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt and pepper; whisk in the olive oil. Toss the dressing with the bread mixture and allow to sit 20 minutes before serving.

Nutritional analysis per serving 416 calories, 30 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 15 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 572 mg sodium



1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

1 pound deli-sliced roast beef, cut into 1/4-inch strips

4 cups shredded napa cabbage

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 Persian cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped

4 (7- to 8-inch) flour tortillas

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Combine coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, honey and curry paste in a small bowl; whisk until smooth.

2. Combine roast beef, cabbage, onion, cucumber, red pepper, cilantro and mint in a bowl. Toss with dressing.

3. Brush 1 side of each of the tortillas lightly with the oil and warm according to package directions (or follow tip above). Place one-fourth of the roast beef mixture in a column down the center of the brushed side of each tortilla: fold the bottom inch of the tortilla up over filling and roll tortilla lengthwise to enclose. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving 362 calories, 28 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 2,009 mg sodium (to lower sodium, look for low-sodium tortillas and low-sodium sliced roast beef)

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