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Garden salad with kidney beans

August 6, 2008

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Serves 4

It's fun to go to a farmers' market - or better yet, grab a basket and head to your own backyard garden - and get what looks good. Later, in the kitchen, see what happens if you toss it all in a bowl and call it supper. To begin, you need something like beans or pasta for substance. Beans are quicker: Open the can, rinse the beans, and they're good to go. Cherry or regular tomatoes are essential for juiciness, cucumber for something crisp, same for celery and sugar snap peas, blanched green beans because they taste so meaty right now, olives for saltiness, fresh herbs for aromatics, and cooked chicken or salmon or canned tuna for protein. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cost: low. Satisfaction: priceless.

2cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans
2tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2tablespoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
1/2pound green beans
1pint cherry tomatoes, quartered or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
2small cucumbers, thinly sliced
2stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/4pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
1/2cup pitted black or green olives
2grilled chicken breasts or whole legs, or 1-pound piece grilled salmon or 1 can (7 ounces) tuna in oil
2tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, basil, or parsley

1. Drain the kidney beans into a colander, rinse well, and shake to remove excess moisture. Tip the beans into a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender but still crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water.

3. Add the green beans to the kidney beans with the tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, sugar snaps, and olives. Cut the chicken or salmon into 1 1/2-inch strips. Drain and flake the tuna. Add the chicken, salmon, or tuna to the salad with thyme, basil, or parsley.

4. With a large spoon, stir the salad gently. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian