Jack and the Beanstalk

It is no secret that I love beans. A secret weapon – in many arenas – of sorts. I like to buy the Rancho Gordo ones from their website. If you are not yet familiar with this brand, do look into it. I fast became enamored of the beans and in turn, picked up the cook book. Once your email address in the system, you are privy to wonderfully informative emails about beans, their origins and cooking recommendations. The selection and magnificent variety of colors, shapes and types will truly blow your mind. Who knew the world offered so many beans? They are to be soaked overnight and transformed accordingly. The last time we prepared them, I combined beans of the most gorgeous color, rich mushrooms and fresh herbs in a pan. The end result was beyond reproach.

Sometimes however, I forget to soak and so we revert to canned. Make sure you are buying an organic brand and watch the sodium. We like the brand Eden Organic. Canned beans must always be rinsed at least once but preferably twice. Our grocery list always includes cans of garbanzo, black, pinto, dark and light kidney as well as cannellini beans. I have to be careful not to go too overboard as they can be an irritant to my ever sensitive system but everything in moderation. Beans are marvelous at breakfast time. Warm up some black ones with coriander seeds and paprika to marry nicely with fried eggs, wilted greens and Sriracha. They are a must in most chilis and give new life to almost all salads alike. They add a bit of panache if mixed with grains. When I lived in Germany, one of my go to dinner sides was large white Italian beans sautéed in olive oil with a diced red chili and chopped parsley. You can puree beans to create a consistency similar to that of mashed potatoes. Think hummus. All you need is garbanzo beans, tahini or sesame paste, garlic, salt and the juice as well as zest of lemons. Garbanzos are divine when roasted with cauliflower. You can also make marvelous dips with white beans and black ones too. Throw everything in your food processor and puree. Steam edamame to have as a snack or mix with other goodies. When I prepare our beloved carnitas, I make my own refried alternative. All you need is a hot pan, garlic, a couple of strips of bacon, pinto beans and organic chicken stock.

Salads comprised almost exclusively of beans are sure crowd pleasers and they go the distance in that a little yields a lot. What I adore about the salad that follows is the variety of different beans and colors, abundance of fresh herbs and the kick the vinaigrette packs thanks to the combination of white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. The extra virgin olive oil subtly finishes things off nicely. You can be creative with the types of beans you use. Like a variety not listed below? Throw them in. The world is your oyster here. This bean salad goes with everything. Other salads, grains, pork, steak, chicken, bratwurst, hot dogs and burgers of any sort. I can attest that it also tastes simply sublime on its own. It bolsters any picnic or can be an elegant side dish at Easter lunch. It is best to make this the day before you want to serve it only because this is a number that develops incredible flavor overnight. We so enjoyed the bean salad on Saturday night and found the dish to taste even better come time for our Sunday supper. It was absolutely dynamite over raw spinach at lunch on Monday and genial with a fork from the Tupperware container that very same evening. So, what are you waiting for, get cracking. 

Bean Salad with Fresh Herbs


1 can of pinto beans – drained
2 cans of garbanzo beans – drained
1 can of light kidney beans – drained
1 can of dark kidney beans – drained
1 red onion – finely diced
Fresh chopped herbs including – tarragon, chives, flat leaf parsley, thyme
2 tsp French Dijon mustard
4 TBS white wine vinegar
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Elbow Grease

1. Dice the red onion finely and throw in a large bowl.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil and chopped herbs. I am very generous with the herbs but you can hedge your bets here.

3. Drain your beans in a colander and carefully rinse with fresh water. Once this is done, add to the large bowl along with the red onion.

3. Pour the vinaigrette on top and spoon gently to coat. Season to taste. Serve with any remaining chopped herbs on top.

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