Meal-in-a-Bowl: Pesto-Bean Topped Salad

Pesto-Bean Topped Salad on

Some people are born controversial, some achieve controversy, and others have controversy thrust upon them.

I assume that by now most of you have heard the rumors about Toronto’s illustrious mayor Rob Ford.  It seems, allegedly, that there is an alleged video of the alleged mayor smoking some alleged crack cocaine with two alleged drug dealers (one of whom is already allegedly confirmed dead).

I have no idea whether or not the mayor smokes crack (aren’t crack addicts supposed to be skinny?), but even if the rumors ultimately prove to be true, I still feel sorry for the guy, who seems to be dogged by controversy just because he wakes up every morning. (And, excuse me for asking, but doesn’t a mayor have to be voted in by his citizens in 2013? If Torontonians hate him so much, why did they vote for the guy?).  In any case, the name “Rob Ford” certainly seems synonymous with twitter hashtag riots  salivating Toronto Star reporters  audible groans from the HH “controversy” lately.

Pesto-Bean Topped Salad on

On the other hand, I must admit that I am not naturally a contrary type, and heated debates or contentious standpoints are not my usual modus operandi.  So I was a tad surprised that my recent Facebook post (in which I mentioned that plant-based diets appear to alleviate inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis) elicited an immediate rebuttal. Then, the conversation turned to an examination of paleo versus vegan diets.

As most of you know, the HH is an avowed meat-eater (though not paleo), so clearly, even though I am entirely pro-plants, I also believe that we each must make our own choices. I would no more try to change what the HH eats than I would try to tell him what to wear when we go out with friends (Oh. Wait a sec. . . nope. Been there, tried that, didn’t work.  You want to wear your orange/purple plaid shirt with your grey corduroy pants and black dress shoes? Okay, honey, sure. Fine by me.).

Ironically, I am the one who seems to be leaning more toward “paleo” these days, since I’ve been cutting back on grains quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong; I love grains and believe they should be part of a well-balanced diet. The problem, in my case, is that I have no sense of “balance” when it comes to grain-based foods. So, every once in a while, I give my system a break. What this means, most often, is that I eat primarily raw foods for a few days.

Pesto Bean Salad on Diet, Dessert and Dogs (

[An early prototype of the Pesto-Bean Topped Salad, with Sunflower Sprouts.]

This meal-in-a-bowl (or meal-on-a-plate) was our grain-free dinner a few nights ago.  It’s my variation on a favorite salad I had at Fresh a while back. While the restaurant serves it up over mixed greens and adds hearts of palm, avocado and toasted pecans (quite delish), I enjoyed shredded romaine and kale as my base.  I also added carrot and hemp seeds instead of pecans; and, in an earlier iteration, sunflower sprouts (which were just divine).

If you’ve already got cooked beans on hand, the recipe comes together in a flash. I’ve used both home-cooked and canned with great success (though if you use canned, be sure to rinse and drain them very well to remove excess salt).

I ate mine as a complete meal loaded with ample protein provided from the pesto, beans and hemp seeds, while the HH ate his as a side dish alongside even more protein in the form of grilled fish.  And yet, both of us adored this plate. Absolutely no controversy on that point.

Last Year at this Time: Chai Ice Cream (no ice cream maker required!)(gluten free; ACD  Stage 2 and beyond)

Two Years Ago: Caesar Salad (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Three Years Ago: Green Monster Muffins (gluten free; ACD  Stage 2 and beyond)

Four Years AgoMocha Cereal Cinnamon Muffins (not gluten free; ACD Maintenance)

Five Years Ago: Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers (gluten free; ACD  All Stages [use Braggs instead of tamari])

Pesto Bean Topped Salad on

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  1. This salad looks amazing! I love the idea of tangy herby beans with a big plate of crisp veg. I bet this would be a perfect work lunch.

  2. wow! this sounds delish – I’m pinning it right now – thank you 🙂

  3. It amazes me how much food can divide much like religion and politics. That is so very unfortunate. I eat vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, probably even vegan at times. I love them all. Let’s unite and be an encouraging crowd rather than pulling each other apart!! This may be a little assumptive but I think the one thing all can agree on whichever lifestyle diet you choose is that whole foods are best and processed foods not so much.

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe 🙂

    Have a blessed day!

  4. love the salad – if I want salad, I usually want it to be satisfying – which is against the idea of the standard garden salad. This salad has muscles – it would eat a garden salad up for dinner! (Ok that was a weird metaphor because we know your salad would just still not be full)

    Haven’t heard about your mayor but sounds like an odd story – and I agree that sometimes the media likes to shoot first and then ask questions

    • I love the idea that this salad has muscles! Yes, it’s very filling and satisfying. And who knows what will happen with our mayor? So far, he’s still not talking. 😉

  5. Controversy is right! As I’ve gotten older – it happens – I’ve learned that its not the labels that are important when it comes to diet. Its about what you eat and how it makes you feel. I agree with Janet – let’s just support each other!
    Meal-in-a-bowl – one of my favourite ways to eat! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. I missed out on the controversy, but I LOVE this salad! While I’m one who would love it if everyone went gluten free (because I truly think that way of living would benefit all) and I have my own food ideas about what works and what doesn’t, with few exceptions I’m totally fine with others sharing info that supports their beliefs and living their lives the way they wish. And we truly call all eat at the same table and enjoy fabulous food without having to have “issues”! 🙂


  7. I love salads in a bowl! This looks delicious, can’t wait to try it! Pinned! I’ve been to Fresh a few years back and really enjoyed my meal. I can’t wait to visit Toronto again.

    • How cool that you’ve been to Fresh! It’s one of my faves. And if you do get back to TO, PLEASE let me know so we can meet up! 😀

      • Soon! – Please email me your contact details, that would be great! This has reminded me that I bought a recipe book while I was there – Refresh, but I’ve not made a lot from it – I’ve just dug it out!

        • Thanks, Vicky! Email sent. 🙂 And I have the original book, not Refresh (though someone told me that the two books were almost the same. . .) .

  8. This sounds like a perfect main course salad for a summer meal that I’d be proud to serve to guests. The pesto beans look so flavorful and I love the salad ingredients. You really should invite poor Rob Ford over for dinner and cheer him up with a good meal. Maybe he’ll be accused of being vegan.

    • Ha ha ha ha ha HA!!! I think Rob Ford could use a good, fresh, healthy salad, frankly. I do actually feel sorry for the guy, though! And I agree–this is equally a salad for guests as it is for family. Looking forward to SEEING YOU in just a few days!! GAH!! 😀

  9. This sounds delicious! I’m excited to give it a try soon. I love what you have said about no one-size-fits-all approach to eating. I’m so done with labels, I eat in a way that works best for me and hope others will seek out the way that works best for them, which probably won’t be the same as what works for me. 🙂

  10. This salad sounds and looks amazing. I would have to add the toasted pecans back in, because I love them in a salad, almonds too.

  11. I’ve cut out grains recently- I feel a little like a vegetarian paleo 😉 This dish is right up my alley these days!

    And oh Rob Ford…just as one scandal clears up he’s smack dab in the middle of another…

    • I know what you mean! I can’t imagine how he’ll get out of this one. . . but you never know. 😉 Glad the salad suits the new diet! 🙂

  12. Hi Ricki! Your salad reminds me of one that I had at a vegetarian restaurant recently. I made a mental note to replicate it as soon as possible, so you may find me with a chic pea salad soon too! I love that yours has the addition of sprouts and hemp seeds. Love it!

  13. oooh YES PLEASE!! 😀

  14. certainly a winning way to top a salad! i did a chickpea-avocado mash on top of salads for lunch this week 🙂 next time i will add pesto!

  15. I love pesto! This looks like my kinda salad!


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