Canned beans are fantastic convenience food. For a little over a buck, you can stock your pantry with a shelf-stable protein source that works in main dishes or in side dishes.

You can even use cooked canned beans as an inexpensive way to stretch pricier proteins: Serve seared salmon on a bed of sauteed creamy white beans, and you'll only need a few ounces of fish to make the meal feel hearty. Boost the filling factor in pasta dishes by adding a cup of rinsed canned beans to your family's recipes. Or, let beans turn a ho-hum salad into a filling comfort dish. In this week's recipe, I pair black beans with fresh mango and the result is spectacular, especially given how quickly this recipe comes together.

The hardest part about this salad is cutting the mango, navigating around its long, flat seed. You can easily purchase mango already cut in the packaged produce section, but you can save several dollars for about 3 minutes of work if you are willing.

To slice or cube a mango, first cut it lengthwise just a little off-center, parallel to the seed, removing two large "cheeks." Score (or slice) the mango flesh right in the cheek with the skin intact, and then scoop out the recipe-ready cubes or slices with a spoon, scraping against the skin. Slice the remaining mango flesh from the edges of the seed, and either cube or just eat them. (Because you deserve a little treat after all that slicing, right?)

Mango is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, and it makes the salad feel bright and tropical. I add yellow pepper and corn (straight from the freezer; it thaws quickly) which make it pretty. Texture (and niacin!) comes from a light sprinkle of cashews and just a few smashed corn tortilla chips, which you can buy or make by roasting corn tortillas in the oven until crisp, about 15 minutes at 350 F. The tasty dressing is a result of a simple weeknight dressing hack: I add fresh lime juice and a little olive oil to prepared salsa.

I use shredded kale for this salad, but use any hearty dark green — you get more vitamins with the darker greens, and the bold flavors and textures on this salad need a green that can stand up to them. Feel free to swap out the fruit or other ingredients to match your pantry - as long as you have some kind of canned beans in the cupboard, you can make some version of this hearty and versatile salad work.

BLACK BEAN AND MANGO SALAD

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

6 cups shredded kale, or other dark leafy greens

1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

1 1/2 cup cubed fresh mango, about 1 large mango

1 cup organic frozen corn, thawed

1 cup chopped tomato, about 2 roma tomatoes

1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1/2 large avocado, cubed

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cashews, chopped

8 baked organic corn chips, lightly crushed

chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

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For the dressing:

1/4 cup prepared tomato (or tomatillo) salsa

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Lay the greens on a platter or individual plates. Place on top of the greens: beans, mango, corn, tomato, bell pepper, and avocado. Sprinkle on the green onions, cashews, crushed corn chips and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour on the salad. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 296 calories; 114 calories from fat; 13 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 393 mg sodium; 42 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 9 g protein.

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