Building a Better Bean Salad

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Salads

Here are a few of Steve's salad tips:

  • I have found that washing my lettuce, spinning it and then rolling it in clean tea towels keeps the greens fresher, longer. I wrap the roll with a rubber band and then mark it with labeled painter’s tape.
  • I save end-of-loaf bread, slice it and then let it dry out in my oven. Taking a piece of the dried bread and pounding it in my mortar and sprinkling it over the salad right before serving helps make the salad more substantial.
  • As much as I love bean broth, I don’t appreciate it in the salad. Make sure your beans are well-drained. As soon as you have the inkling, let your beans strain in some type of colander as you make the rest of the ingredients. Save the bean broth, though!
  • I am lazy and do not want more dishes to clean. So I like to make the dressing in the salad bowl, add the ingredients and then toss. I normally start with salt and garlic, mash them up, and then add vinegar and finally drizzle in the olive oil, whisking. Sometimes I add mustard. Often I don’t. I also love making dressing with my mortar and pestle, in the same order. It emulsifies beautifully. I have a wonderful marble mortar from Carrera, Italy. It’s beautiful but it’s heavy so mostly I use my ceramic mortar from Spain. It’s beautiful in a different way and much easier to carry and clean.
  • After years of fear, I have embraced my mandoline for slicing. Do not chat and do not take your eyes off the blade, no matter how confident you are feeling. The reward is great-textured vegetables like radishes and celery.
  • If you soak your sliced (or chopped) radishes in salt water, they take on an almost buttery flavor. Not more than a few hours, though, or they go limp.
  • A room-temperature salad with wild rice and cut-up xoconostle is a beautiful and easy thing. Add walnuts, white beans, macerated tomatoes, and super-thin radish slices and your favorite olive oil and you’re set. It makes great leftovers, as well.


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