My mom gave me this spoon — we had it all through my childhood. I’ve always loved it; it’s full of good family ju-ju; it was our mashed-potato spoon; it went camping with us every year; it was always on our picnic table; I painted it for the cover of my Summer Book; and now I use it for every summer salad.
And speaking of summer salads… a salad that would go with everything from the grill . . . I made a Bean Salad yesterday that turned out so gorgeous and tasted so good, I thought, Yup, good enough to go on the blog! (Loving blog power). Anyway, here’s the finished product:
Summer in a dish…redolent (a word I love as it rolls off the tongue) of fresh herbs, sweet red onion, kalamata olives, garlicky oil and balsamic vinegar.
“Bite sized pieces” reminds me; some know about this, some are just starting out in cooking world, like my Daring Girls, so ignore me if this is old news. I want to talk about the cutting up of things.
Most of you know how much better food is if there’s attention to the descriptive words every recipe uses: chop, or coarsely chop, mince, dice, or cut in “bite sized pieces.” The dish will taste, look, and feel different in your mouth depending upon how you cut things up! For example, let’s say you’re eating this salad. If the cauliflower isn’t bite-sized, you might have to cut it to eat it. That would be bad. Much too disruptive in the quest of getting food to mouth. And the best bite of this salad is when at least two or three of the ingredients fit on the fork at the same time. You wouldn’t, however, want to mince everything either; the salad wouldn’t be as pretty; it would lose its character. This is why I hardly ever use the food processor, never to be exact, to cut up vegetables. I want my diced red pepper to be little squares, not raggedy bits of vegetable. OK, end of this edition of Cooking 101. ♥
Does it matter if the beans are canned or made from scratch? Honestly, everything matters. Homemade beans can be cooked “tender crisp” so they keep their shape and their “bite” — they won’t be quite as mushy as a canned bean is. But it’s not imperative in this recipe.
What’s more important is that you get to the playing part of this summer day. ♥
So, after I diced the celery and red onion — I scooped it into a large skillet with some extra virgin olive oil and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and then sauteed everything very quickly until it was wilted and fragrant.
Then I put the cute little cauliflower florets and sauteed vegetables in a large serving bowl with a little more olive oil and added the rinsed and drained beans.
Next came the chopped olives, fresh flat-leaf parsley, and fresh sage; it adds prettiness if you want to save a few whole leaves of fresh herbs to decorate.
The olives are roughly chopped, a little smaller than bite-sized, but not finely chopped or minced.
This is exactly what’s nice about having a garden; time out from cooking and out to the garden I go to get the parsley and sage; fresh air, sunshine, nose-in-rose, back to kitchen with bounty which gets roughly chopped. Almost done!
Some freshly ground pepper, some grinds of sea salt, and stir gently.
V O I L A !
Aren’t the colors beautiful? It was delicious! Can you not reach right into that for a bite? Get a spoon! See how many of the little bits and pieces will fit on your spoon at the same time.
We had it with a watercress salad and grilled, island-caught swordfish from our favorite fish market.
And Joe made his garlic bread….
And that’s it… hope you enjoyed this little trip through our kitchen. The recipe is at the bottom of this page.
Right this moment, the rain is coming down hard… we haven’t had rain in a couple of weeks . . . it’s soaking everything, giving a good wash to the dusty blueberry bushes that grow wild along the dirt road where we walk everyday . . . they’re almost ripe and it looks like there’s going to be a huge crop this year. We don’t have to worry about watering this morning! The windows are all open, it’s cool breezes blowing the curtains here in my studio; it’s just getting light out…the island is very quiet, but every so often, a car goes by out front, the wheels whap-whap on the rainy road. Time for my second cup of tea and then into my chair with my book for one hour of pure reading happiness. Have a wonderful day, take a deep breath, and think:
- 2 – 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 c. cauliflower florets in bite-sized pieces
- ¼ c. + ¼ c. olive oil
- 1 c. diced red onion
- 1 c. diced celery
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/3 c. white wine vinegar
- ½ c. roughly chopped kalamata olives
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (keep a few leaves whole)
- 6 leaves fresh sage, keep 2 or 3 whole, chop the others finely
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Rinse and drain beans well. Put cauliflower in small saucepan, add water just to cover, and cook until tender-crisp. Rinse in cold water and drain. In a large skillet, heat first quarter cup of olive oil; add onion and celery, stir, cooking for 2 min; add garlic, cook and stir another minute. Pour into large salad bowl along with cauliflower and stir in vinegar. Add the beans, the other quarter cup of olive oil, the olives, parsley, and sage. Salt and pepper to taste; stir gently until well combined. Add the whole leaves of herb. Serve at room temperature. ♥