There is something about the heat of summer that makes our craving for intense flavors seem stronger than ever. The hotter it gets, the more flavor I want. I yearn for cool and refreshing foods, but somehow strong herbs, garlic, assertive vinaigrettes and spices just seem right under the hot summer sun. As summer progresses, basil is on every single menu I write and rosemary works its way in to many of my dishes. No more polite vinaigrettes either. I want a sauce for my salad that screams, “YEOW!” I just can’t seem to get enough.
A perfect canvas for the big bold flavors is a chilled summer bean salad. I love the creamy texture of the beans and the nutty flavor. I also appreciate the way the beans marry with the produce and punchy vinaigrettes that I crave. I love cannellini beans for their velvety texture, but any bean will work. As summer progresses and produce changes, feel free to add in your favorite veggies. The salad can be made up to four days ahead of serving and can be refrigerated. The bean salad is not only flavorful, but high in protein and low in fat and can be served as a meal in itself, or paired with your favorite grilled meat, chicken or fish.
Chilled Summer Bean Salad:
Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
2 heaping tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the salad:
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
½ cup sliced radishes
1 cup peas, cooked
1 cup green beans, cut into –inch segments
1 cup chopped or torn basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 small fresh hot chilies, minced (I like Fresno chilies for a fruity heat)
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed or 1.5 cups of dry beans soaked, drained and cooked
- Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- Toss the ingredients for the salad together and generously drizzle with vinaigrette. Store any leftover vinaigrette, covered in the refrigerator.