Monday, March 10, 2008

tangy white bean salad, sans the roast

On Sunday morning I awoke with a niggling thought, accompanied by a sinking feeling in my stomach. For the first time in many years I’d accepted an invitation to be cooked for by someone I didn’t really know and it dawned on me I hadn’t done my apologetic food speech (“no meat, no dairy”). In the early days of being “vegetarian” (piscetarian wasn’t in common use in the ‘80’s) I stumbled twice in a year. First an employer had invited me and my boyfriend around to dinner and served up the quintessential meat and 3 veg. We’d somehow managed to discretely communicate with each other to not say anything and ate what we’d been served. A similar thing happened at the end of a very long day in Vienna, when a Servas host had so graciously accommodated me at short notice and welcomed me a bowl of hearty lamb stew. I bowed my head and ate what I had been given, then later as I suffered considerable gastric distress I vowed I’d never put myself in that position again.

So I found myself without a phone number, just an address to rock up and see what was given to me. But this time I’d be prepared. A chilled bottle of Vintage Chandon sparkling to make up for any embarrassment and a simple bean salad to ensure there would be some sustenance if all else failed. This quick canned bean salad is one of my fallbacks. It can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes, is tasty and fills a gap. It is an easy way to pad out the table if a meal needs to go further than expected when an extra guest or two turns up for dinner. It is not an original recipe and many variations abound. Here is my version heavy on citrus and garlic, just the way I like it.

Tangy white bean salad with parsley and tomato

2 cans organic cannellini beans, rinsed well (or freshly cooked dried beans if planning in advance)
A generous handful of parsley, finely chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 2 large tomatoes diced)

Combine ingredients in a suitably sized bowl


1 part lemon juice
2 parts olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Zest of half a lemon (for zest it is best to buy organic)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together, pour over the salad ingredients and toss.

So what was for lunch? The Significant Eater had been hanging out for a roast and was sadly disappointed. Instead, much to my relief, it was a delicious bean and vegetable soup, with great company and the aforementioned drop of bubbly.

Everyone enjoyed the bean salad as well.


A can of good quality, well drained tuna makes a more protein heavy variation. I tend to up the amounts of parsley and tomato a little to balance the flavours.

If you like bean salads, try my vegan Bean salad with parsley pesto.

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Blogger Lucy said...

Generous, lovely gift to your host - I must remember that trick!

And a beautiful salad. It's amazing just how many people don't offer roasts and the like any more - I reckon there's been a big shift in thinking over the last five years.

7:39 am  
Anonymous glutenfreeforgood said...

A "niggling" thought? Hmmm? I like that. Think I'll add that to my very American vocabulary!

Oh, and I am a huge bean fan. I put beans in everything. I love the colors in your salad. A nice easy (and pretty) salad that I will keep in my mind for situations as you described. Good idea!


1:06 pm  

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