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Black beans are paired with American-grown sweet potatoes, a red-wine vinegar and red onion vinaigrette and a touch of smoky mayo-based dressing that is so common in the United States.

The upcoming summer Olympics have me dreaming of a bucket-list trip to Brazil, and because my dreams usually feature food, I'm also hankering for some black beans made in my incredibly heavy stone bean pot a dear friend of mine lugged all the way back from his Brazilian vacation years ago.

Note: If you ever have a friend kind enough to bring you a heavy stone pot from Brazil for bean-braising, do it. It may have weighed enough to create all sorts of travel havoc for my friend and his suitcase, but this pot works true miracles on the humble dried bean!

Black beans are such an inexpensive, versatile little bundle of protein, fiber and carbs that my stone pot gets used quite often. I love to cook up batches of beans and then divvy them up into small baggies to keep in the freezer, ready for a quick thaw for recipes.

And I add black beans to almost anything for a little nutritional boost — try adding a tablespoon of beans to your chocolate smoothies, or a ½ cup of blended beans to your brownies, or just toss some beans in with pasta dishes or soups for some extra protein and filling fiber.

This week, I'm adding black beans to an American summer classic: potato salad. And just like America, this version is a true melting pot of cultures coming together in glorious harmony.

Black beans are paired with American-grown sweet potatoes (the orange variety that is often called — erroneously — "yams" at the supermarket), a red-wine vinegar and red onion vinaigrette that reminds me of my German grandmother's potato salads growing up, and a touch of smoky mayo-based dressing that is so common here in the US. This potato salad just works. Kind of like the Olympics.



Start to Finish: 25 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (often called "yams" at the market), peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes

2 strips bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup red wine vinegar

creamy dressing:

1 tablespoon lowfat plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon sriracha, or other spicy sauce

1 ¼ cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts

¼ cup chopped cilantro


Boil the sweet potato cubes in salted water in a large saucepan over medium high heat until cooked through and fork-tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon pieces in a large skillet until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same skillet (keep the fat), add the onion and cumin and saute until onion just starts to soften, about 1 minute.

Stir in the red wine vinegar, remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the creamy dressing: yogurt, mayonnaise, smoked paprika and sriracha.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and add the black beans and reserved bacon. Pour the red wine vinegar and onion mixture on the potatoes and toss to coat. Stir in the creamy sauce, walnuts and cilantro. Serve room temperature or chilled. Best if eaten within three days.

Nutrition information per serving: 147 calories; 53 calories from fat; 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 3 mg cholesterol; 265 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 5 g protein.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."