The Mr. and I have decided to focus a bit more on the vegetables in our diet and cut back on the animal proteins. We aren’t full-blown vegetarians, and we certainly are not vegans. However, we do want to eat more vegetables than we have. I think spring is a great time to start eating more veggies. There are so many delicious veggies just beginning to appear in the stores. This Beans and Greens Spring Salad is an homage to early spring. Lots of green vegetables for a light, fresh weeknight dinner! A couple of things about this salad. Make sure you season with salt every step of the way. The secret to a great salad is seasoning each of your ingredients along the way. Do this, and you will notice a big difference in all your salads.
The first step in the process is to prep your beans. I know its easy to get them in a can, and you can certainly do that. Personally, I prefer to cook my own. It’s easy, and if you work a few days ahead. Soak your beans in heavily salted water for 12-24 hours. White beans soak pretty quick so you can do this for less time than you would a black bean. Then in the same pot with the same water bring your beans to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft. I do think it is worth taking the time to make your beans. They aren’t hard to make yourself; it means you have to plan a tiny bit.
If you don’t want to make your beans, you can use a can of beans. They will taste EXACTLY the same. The only real benefit to making beans is that you avoid additives (which careful label-reading can also take care of). Well, that and a bag of white beans is $0.50 and it makes a TON more than you get in a can of beans. I used Great Northern Beans for this recipe because I love their creamy texture, but any white bean will do. These two reasons are enough for me, especially given how little effort it is to make them.
I also recommend making your vinaigrette. Firstly, the vinaigrette is possibly the simplest thing you will ever make. Secondly, commercial dressings mostly have a ton of added chemicals and sugar. I try to avoid sugars like this; if I am going to eat sugar, I want it to be in ICE CREAM. (Have I mentioned my CoolHaus obsession?) Anyway, you can eyeball a dressing like this in a jam jar. The traditional proportion is 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil. I also add dijon for the extra flavor and to help with the emulsification. Add some salt and pepper, and you are good to go. Seriously, don’t buy commercial dressing. It is tastier and cheaper to make it yourself.
I recently discovered Central Market’s Savory Hazelnut bread. Ummmm…. I might be addicted. Holy cow, it’s so good. It is studded with hazelnut and little pieces of shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, and goodness knows what else. I don’t care. Its delicious. I know not everyone can get this bread, so if you are not in the DFW area with access to a Central Market try any nutty bread, you can find. I think Orowheat’s Health Nut Bread would be a great substitution, but any nutty bread that strikes your fancy will work.
A perfect match for our beans and greens dish, this juicy red may also go by the name of Napa Gamay by old time wine aficionados. You will find cherry and pepper notes, lush berry fruit, and a soft herbal palate. This offering does best with a slight chill, it is best to refrigerate about 20 minutes before serving.
Pan Fried Croutons
Roasted Red Pepper
Assemble your Salad!