Friday, August 23, 2013

Fast Friday: Three bean salad

Fri-i-day, and I'm feeling goo-oo-d.  This has been a mighty (I know "mightily" is correct, but it just sounds weird, doesn't it?) productive week.  Despite a super busy and very fun weekend, I managed to hit the ground running on Monday and haven't stopped since then.  It's fascinating how I seem to be more productive the busier I am.  Yet, on days when I only have one or two things to do, I dilly dally around and wind up with a to-do list that's void of any check marks.  Eek!

During weeks when I have lots on my plate, I try to stay ahead of the game and plan meals that are big on flavor, small on prep, and will benefit us for a few days.  Sometimes it's main dishes like a big batch of burgers or a pot of hearty soup.  This week, however, it was a side dish that really delivered, night after night.

Inspiration for dishes comes from so many sources.  Friends, restaurants, and, not surprisingly, food shows.  But, surprisingly, the idea for this rockin' three bean salad came from a show solely dedicated to sandwiches.

Told you sandwiches were making a comeback.

But this bean salad?  It may seem humble, but it was on my mind days after seeing it made on Sandwich King.  Cool, crunchy, and light with a dressing that looked off the hook delicious.

As (usually... and thankfully!) turns out, it tasted even better than it looked!  Having never had three bean salad before, this set the bar mighty high.

Shall I count the ways I love this salad?

To start, it's easy.  Like, making oatmeal kind of easy.  One bowl, minimal chopping, and a simple toss to mix everything.

Also, it's c-h-e-a-p.  Green beans are roughly $1.50 per pound, a can of beans costs less than a buck, one shallot will run you less than a dollar, and the rest of the ingredients are inexpensive pantry staples.

It's hearty and oh-so-satisfying!  This is packed with good-for-you fiber and a surprising amount of protein from the cannellini and kidney beans that will keep you satisfied for hours.  Paired with a grilled chicken breast, simple grilled cheese, or bowl of summery tomato zucchini gazpacho, this meal packs a mean punch.

Last, but certainly not least, it's freakin' delicious!  That's really the only reason you need to make anything, right?  I never thought I'd say this about a non-dessert, but I couldn't get enough of this!  And it only got better the longer it sat as the beans soaked up all of the delicious sweet and barely sour dressing.

I sampled bites of this salad as I stood over the counter preparing the rest of dinner.  And when I was plating the food.  After I did the dishes, I snuck into the fridge and helped myself to a few spoonfuls of it later that night.  The next morning?  A spoon found its way into the container and into my mouth while my frittata cooked on the stove-top.  Just. So. Good!  Couldn't stop and wouldn't stop until there was none left.

What did I do then?  I mourned, gathered my thoughts, and went out to buy the ingredients to make another batch just in time for the weekend.  Meals?  Check.  Fun things?  Here we go.  Have a great weekend! :)

One year ago: Santa Fe BBQ chicken pizza
Two years ago: Ham & cheese puff pastry squares
Three years ago: Sour cherry pie

Three Bean Salad
(adapted slightly from Jeff Mauro's recipe)
-makes 6-8 servings

A few notes: In a pinch, you could use cut frozen green beans in place of fresh.  They won't have quite the snap of the fresh ones, but the flavor would be the same.  Simply thaw the frozen beans under cold running water, drain, and pat dry.

1/2 pound green beans, cut in half, ends trimmed and discarded
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini or northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, minced
1/4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Set up a large bowl of ice water.  Add the green beans to the pot and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain and plunge the green beans into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the green beans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and honey; slowly whisk in oil until blended.  Add all drained beans and shallot to the bowl, tossing to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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