Two cans of beans and a vinaigrette, that’s about all there is to it. Except, you want a delicious vinaigrette, and that means delicious vinegar and oil.
“Taste your ingredients” is something I always say when I’m teaching a class, and it is especially true with condiments because they can make or break a whole dish. Use a thin, sour vinegar and your salad is going to taste thin and sour. Use a deliciously complex vinegar and your salad is going to taste deliciously complex.
I’ve been a fan of sherry vinegar for years. Made from “Sherry”, the fortified and aged wines of the Jerez region in Spain, sherry vinegar would make a great bean salad. But have you tried Banyuls vinegar? It is made from the fortified red wine of the Banyuls region of France and is an instant upgrade wherever “red wine vinegar” is used. When buying, look at the label and make sure you’re getting authentic versions from the home countries. (I purchase vinegar and oil from Zingerman’s and if I have wine coming from Kermit Lynch, I’ll often add in a special bottle of olive oil.)
At serving time, a bed of undressed salad greens keeps the beans from rolling all over your plate and as an added plus–instant salad dressing! I’ve adapted this recipe from the “Garbanzo and Kidney Bean Salad” in My Nepenthe, Romney Steele’s tribute to her family’s restaurant perched on the cliffs of Big Sur.
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped any or all: green onions, chives, fresh tarragon, fresh oregano
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans
- 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 - 3 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar (Banyuls is my current fave, but taste and fine a vinegar you like)
- Mix together in the bottom of a large bowl: green onions, chives, herbs, red onion (if using), garlic mashed with salt, sugar, and black pepper.
- Blanch green beans in a pot of boiling salted water for a minute or two, until crisp tender. Immediately transfer beans to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove from ice bath, pat dry on a clean kitchen towel, and add to the bowl.
- Add the canned beans to the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and gently toss to combine. Let stand for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Refrigerate any leftovers. (Olive oil will harden when refrigerated, but don't fret. A few minutes at room temperature and it will return to its liquid self.)