July 2010 Archives

Summer White Bean And Basil Salad Recipe

summer bean salad 2.jpgOne of my favorite beans is the navy bean.  I make a lot of bean salads with them because there is no vegetable and no herb that don't pair well with them.  Unlike many other beans they have a mild presence which I find charming. 

I nearly always add feta to my bean salads but this one is so good just as it is, so tangy and flavorful, that I didn't miss the cheese for a second.  Considering that I think life without cheese isn't worth living, that's saying a lot.

Summer White Bean and Basil Salad Recipe


1 pound green beans
6 cups cooked navy beans
1/2 cup fresh basil dressing
1/2 red onion (sliced very thinly in 1" long pieces)

basil bean salad 2.jpg

Trim the ends off the green beans and cut them in half.  Steam the beans just until tender (this usually takes 3-5 minutes). 

Put the navy beans into a medium sized bowl and pour the dressing into them, mixing very well.  Stir in the steamed green beans and the onion. 

You can eat this right away but it's best if you let it sit for at least an hour so that the beans can marinate in the dressing for a while.


Recipe Notes:  You can add other summery things to this salad such as cucumbers, tomatoes, or feta cheese.  If you add tomatoes to it I suggest you only add it to portions you are certain to eat the same day.  Tomatoes don't fare well cut in salads and kept overnight in the fridge.  You can use great northern or cannellini beans in place of the navy beans. 

This recipe is gluten free: provided you use only gluten free vinegar in the dressing.
This recipe is vegan.
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Fresh Basil Dressing Recipe

basil dressing.jpg
Something I've discovered in my picture taking learning curve is that in the final exam called "how to take a tantalizing picture of dressing" I have failed.  I would like to say in my defense that taking pictures of dressing seems to be a challenge for many people. 

I have been hearing the evil phrase "Too much basil!" being uttered by many silly gardeners and food bloggers.  This is a proclamation I have no patience with.  I have never had great luck in producing an "overabundance" of basil, no matter how hard I try.  What I wouldn't give to have so much basil I could experience basil exhaustion.  The truth is, however, that there is no such thing for me.  Too much basil?  You will miss it like a lost limb in midwinter, so make a million batches of pesto to freeze!  Use it in salads, or ratatouille (also to freeze!), in pasta dishes, in ricotta for stuffing those ubiquitous zucchinis everyone also claims to get so sick of they could throw up at the sight of another one...

Basil is one of the single most versatile herbs I know of and though you can dry it, I have always felt that dried basil is a travesty of fresh.  Frozen basil is far superior to dried as well, provided you freeze it with oil to protect its lush greenness.

Most dressings I make I use dried herbs because I make large batches and sometimes the fresh herbs will brown before I get to using them.  However, I highly recommend making this fresh basil dressing, make it in a single batch and use it up within a week and you won't regret it.  Regret it?  No, you'll LOVE it!  I have already used it on a summer white bean salad (recipe coming soon) and as a dressing for pasta.  If you think pesto is too heavy or you want the fresh basil flavor but without cheese, you have got to try putting half a cup of this dressing on a pound of cooked pasta with roasted vegetables.

But obviously, this dressing will also shine on a simple fresh summer salad.

Fresh Basil Dressing


1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch basil (about 2 cups loosely packed)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard (or your own favorite mustard)
1/2 tsp salt
25 grinds of fresh black pepper


Put all the ingredients together into either a blender or into a container big and deep enough for an immersion blender to work well.  Blend it until all the basil is finely chopped and the dressing is creamy. 

Recipe notes:  If you don't like mustard it's still very good without it.  I like mustard so much I use a lot of it in most of my salad dressings.  It makes the dressing tangy which I love and this tanginess is surprisingly wonderful on pasta.  I also find that prepared mustard adds body to a dressing which I like. 

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