My Mom’s New Old-School Bean Salad

by Caroline

A staple cookbook of my childhood was Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book. My mom does not at all hate to cook, and I learned how to cook by sous cheffing contentedly at her elbow. But Peg Bracken’s dry wit and realistic take on domestic life — her insistence that a woman (still always a woman) didn’t have to spend her days stuck in the kitchen cooking for her husband and kids — must have been, for women coming of age in the 50s and 60s, like a swipe of vinegar across a cloudy window. Refreshing, sharp, and clarifying.

We learned Crazy Cake from Peg Bracken, we learned Elevator Lady Spice Cookies (which Cassoulet contributor — and my sister — Libby Gruner has written about), and we learned Aunt Bebe’s Bean Bowl, an open-the-cans-and-dump salad with a sweet dressing that was a staple of our church potlucks and picnics. “Don’t be afraid of that three-quarters of a cup of sugar, incidentally, as I was,” Bracken writes. “I thought, ‘This will never work out!’ and I thought, further, “Who is that fond of beans?’ But it did and I was.”

I loved that bean salad, but I cannot bring myself to buy canned green or wax beans these days, and making it without canned beans just seems to defeat the purpose. So here’s my mom to the rescue, with her updated bean salad for today’s kitchens, a whole lot fresher and greener but still just as easy. Don’t be afraid of those raisins, incidentally, as I was; I thought, this will never work out! And, I thought further, who is that fond of beans? But it did, and I am.

Black Bean & Chick Pea Salad

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup fresh cilantro or chopped Italian parsley
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
15 ounces chick peas
15 ounces black beans

In a small saucepan, combine the raisins, vinegar, oil and sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, toss chickpeas and black beans, cilantro (or parsley), scallions & raisin mixture with cumin, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Serves lots!

Kale Salad with Poached Egg and Anchovy

by Lisa

You will have to trust me here, this recipe without a picture. Some months ago, Caroline fed me this delicious salad.   Then, I’d been reading Dash and Bella, one of the terrific writers contributing to our forthcoming book,  whose love of the irresistible umami of anchovies (and salt, and garlic) seeps into your own cooking life, making you lament that you’ve gone so many weeks, months even, without mashing up some for yourself.  I figured it was time I jumped on the kale salad wagon. I started with this recipe, subtracted a few ingredients, tweaked the dressing, and layered on some new things, ending with a poached egg, which Phyllis Grant knows makes anything better.  We’ve eaten this salad now–okay Kory and I have eaten it, the kids being not quite convinced it’s edible–four times for dinner. But I still haven’t managed to get a good picture.

Kale Salad with Poached Egg and Anchovies

  • one bunch curly kale
  • pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • a handful of fingerling or baby Yukon gold potatoes
  • eggs, one per person serving
  • anchovies, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces. Use a good, jarred variety, one per person or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Combine olive oil, vinegars, salt and honey. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Cut ribs out of kale, and then cut leaves into small, bite-sized pieces
  3. Toss kale with a small amount of salt and dressing to lightly coat. Let sit 15-20 minutes or longer to slightly soften the leaves.
  4. While the kale is resting, cook the potatoes in very salting boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut into small pieces or slice.
  5. Poach the eggs. Remove from water and drain on a paper towel. These will keep until you’re ready to serve. 
  6. Just before serving toss the kale with a handful of pine nuts–about a 1/4 cup, a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler), the cooked potatoes, and the anchovies. Add additional dressing as needed. If you’re serving anchovy-haters, you can add the delicious chopped fish separately to each plate.
  7. Separate the salad onto four plates. Top each serving with an egg and the anchovies.

Arugula and Apricot Salad

by Caroline

Our backyard was full of this:

And our fruit CSA had brought us all these:

And so I decided to combine them into this:

Arugula and Apricot Salad

Serves one; adjust amounts according to taste (and your supplies)

Several handfulls of arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 apricot, sliced thinly
6-8 toasted pecan halves
about half an ounce of sharp cheddar cheese (use a vegetable peeler to get thin shavings)
a drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette

Toss all the ingredients together until nicely dressed. Serve.

Chard, Chickpea and Carrot Salad-y Side Dish

by Caroline

I got the idea for this dish from Yottam Ottolenghi’s gorgeous new cookbook, Plenty, but I really only had the three key ingredients: chard, carrots, and chickpeas. Ottolenghi adds coriander seeds, mint and other herbs that probably make the dish extra-specially delicious, but really, it’s fine the way I did it, too. Is it a warm salad? A side dish? It’s up to you.

3/4 lb (that translated into two bunches) Swiss chard
1/4 cup olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
15 ounce can chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or the juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup greek yogurt

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Separate the chard leaves and stalks. Blanch the stalks in boiling water for 3
minutes, then add the leaves and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Drain well (squeezing to get the water out), then chop.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan, then add the carrots and saute for 5 minutes, then add the chard and chickpeas. Cook another couple minutes, just to heat through, then add the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and serve with the yogurt.

Roasted Squash & Black Rice Salad

by Caroline

Suddenly after a pretty mild, dry winter it has turned cold here in San Francisco and all I’ve wanted to eat are hearty salads and soups. I spotted this in Sunset, my go-to magazine for new recipes, and while I didn’t have all the ingredients (pomegranates are out of season) I had enough — and added a few more (like dried cherries, which I’m adding to everything lately) — to make a great lunch for several days.

I’ve linked to the original, and am posting the recipe here as I adapted it:

2/3 cup black rice
1 pound butternut squash
4-5 scallions
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, or pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
Juice of half a lemon
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, adjust heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water, then drain well again before tossing into a serving bowl.

Peel and seed the squash and cut into 1-in. cubes. Toss the squash with paprika, salt, and oil. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Put the squash in the bowl with the rice and use the baking pan to roast the scallions for 5-6 minutes, until nicely browned and wilted. Let cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces and add to the growing salad in your bowl. Squeeze half a lemon into the bowl and toss.

Spread the walnuts or pumpkin seeds on the baking sheet and toast until fragrant (6 to 8 minutes), stirring once, then add to the salad along with the dried cherries or cranberries. Toss and serve.