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Flageolet Salad with Lemon, Radishes, and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes.

A vegan salad to be enjoyed on its own or served with traditional Easter dishes.

I don't think of Easter as an inspirtational meal but that's changing. I grew up with industrial hams in cans and lots of bad chocolate. I was invited to my friends' Easter celebration and when I heard that there'd be both ham and lamb, a lemony vegan side dish seemed in order.

Raw, they have almost no taste. Roasted in a low oven, they become delicious jewels.

It's clearly too early for good tomatoes but I've been craving them after the long winter, which seemed to end overnight here in Northern California. Cherry tomatoes sliced in half, dusted with salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, and then topped with fresh time went into the 250F oven for just about an hour.

You can use them in beans, salads, and even pasta.

They don't compare to in-season tomatoes but they're terrific. Use them like sun-dried tomatoes in salads, pasta, and of course, with beans. I left the thyme stems in as long as possible but be sure to pick them out before serving.

One pound of dry beans yields about six cups of cooked. Make them a day ahead so they can cool and you'll have one more thing done the day you serve them.

It's not a bad idea to make sure beans ahead of time. Bring them to room temperature before you strain them and be sure to save the liquid for another meal. Take care that the beans are well-salted. Things tend to need a bit more when they're served room temperature or cold.

Flageolet bean broth. Liquid gold!

Recipe: Flageolet Salad with Lemon, Radishes, and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
6 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Flageolet beans, cooked (from one pound dried)
1 medium red onion, chopped fine
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 bunch radishes, cleaned and sliced thin with a mandolin or vegetable peeler
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stems
olive oil
1 ½ lemons for juicing

Heat the oven to 250F. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on an ungreased baking tray. Add the thyme leaves to the tomatoes, along with a little salt. Add the stems and any leftover thyme and then drizzle a light dose of olive oil over the tomatoes. Cook for about an hour until the tomatoes are slightly shriveled but not dry. Allow to cool and then roughly chop them.

Toss the beans with the tomatoes, onion, parsley, and olive oil. Add the juice of one lemon and check for tartness. It should be very lemony. Add more lemon juice as needed.

Salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, add the radish slices and more parsley, if desired. Optionally, you can garnish with a lemon slice.

Make sure you use lots of lemon juice.

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