“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. Another great vinegar is from Banyuls in France. It is made from the fortified red wine of the region 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.
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!
Bean Salad with Fresh Herbs and Vinaigrette
serves 6; adapted from "Garbanzo and Kidney Bean Salad" in Romney Steele's, My Nepenthe
- 2 tbsp finely chopped any or all: green onions, chives, fresh tarragon leaves, fresh oregano
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans, blanched
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2–3 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
Mix together in the bottom of a large bowl: green onions, chives, herbs, red onion, 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.)