Friday, October 12, 2012

Bean there, done that

Tuscany Bean Salad - photo by Lori Korleski Richardson
Young, tender rainbow chard, fresh from the garden
Photo by Lori Korleski Richardson
Tuscany is a food lovers dream. And one of its claims to fame is its bean dishes. Tuscany is so tied to beans that its people are known as "mangiafagioli" (bean eaters) in the rest of Italy.

One of Tuscans' favorite beans is the cannellini, sometimes called "white kidney beans" in American stores. That is a horrible misnomer: Except for the shape, cannellini beans have nothing in common with kidney beans. Not the color, not the texture and especially not the taste.

Even after cooking, cannellinis keep their shape, their firmness belying their tender insides. They have a pleasant nutlike flavor, and their mild taste makes them a favorite for minestrones.

They make a great salad, hearty enough to continue into winter when local lettuces are long gone. Keep a few cans around and you can have this salad until your chard freezes. And it's good without chard, after that. To make it a main-dish salad, add a drained can of tuna, or serve on a bed of prepared wheatberries.

Lori K's Tuscan bean salad
© 2012, Lori Korleski Richardson
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side salad

1 can cannellini beans (or white Northern or navy beans), rinsed and drained well
1 small red onion, half, peeled and sliced thinly
4-6 young rainbow chard leaves, sliced and microwaved, covered, until just wilted, about a minute
1 tablespoon capers
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Arugula or wheatberries, optional

In a bowl, combine the beans, onion, chard and capers, and tuna if using. Season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and toss to coat well. Chill.

To serve, put on a plate of arugula or chilled wheatberries. Serve.

Note: To prepare wheatberries, put 1 cup in 3 cups boiling water and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain and chill.

1 comment:

  1. Looks good. I got some gorgeous chard at City Mkt last week. I think it appreciates the cooler weather. A single leaf was enough for both Glenn and me, steamed for supper.