July and August boast some of the hottest days of the year, and in the middle of it, we want something cool – cool temperatures and cool food. It may surprise some, but dry beans are not just for chili and soups. White beans, combined with pesto, make the perfect cool, healthy entree or side.
Beans are packed with folate and fiber. For this salad, I am using canned white beans – navy or white kidney (Cannellini) – but you may use any type of bean you would like. Canned is convenient, but if you prefer, you may start from scratch and cook them yourself. Season to taste while cooking. Whether from scratch or canned, drain the beans and continue on with the recipe. Toss in canned stewed tomatoes, minced garlic, lemon juice, red onion and parmesan cheese. This salad could not be easier – not only is it cool, but it keeps the kitchen cool during the preparation. Enjoy!
Pesto: Pesto is one of the easiest complimentary foods to make and yet it adds a great flavor punch to so many other dishes – especially to this cool salad. Basically pesto is made with fresh herbs – I’m using basil, but try sorrel or other fresh herbs of your choice; parmesan cheese; pine nuts (which can be expensive) or walnuts; garlic; lemon juice keeps it fresh and adds a nice taste; salt and pepper, or course to taste; and olive oil. Blend everything together and that’s it.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2-4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
A quick tip on fresh herbs: Even for seasoned herb growers, hot summers can cause havoc with fresh herbs – or at least I should say they do with mine. I slip away for a weekend and the basil has bolted! Bolting is when the plant creates a spike at the top and goes to seed. Once this happens the flavor changes and becomes bitter or less desirable. To prevent bolting, as much as possible, pinch off the forming flowers at the top. You can also buy fresh herbs at the store – I prefer the living plant.
- 2 cans (14-oz each) white beans, drained (i.e., navy, cannellini)
- 1 can (14-oz sliced stewed tomatoes
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 small red onion (for taste & garnish)
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- fresh parsley
Place pesto ingredients – basil leaves, walnuts, ¼-cup shredded cheese, 2-4 cloves minced garlic, 2-tablespoons lemon juice and 2-tablespoon olive oil in food processor or blender and blend to a coarse puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Add additional olive oil or a little juice from the canned tomatoes to create desired consistency. Note – Pesto may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.
Drain and rinse beans. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice (see instructions above). Peel and thinly slice onion. Toss together beans, tomatoes, garlic, part of the red onion, separate into rings (set aside some red onion slices for garnish), and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving bowl or on individual plates. Break apart, dice, or shred salmon and arrange on top of beans. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, garnish with red onion rings. Top salad with pesto and garnish with fresh parsley.
Pairs well with salmon, steak, chicken…serve meat/fish/chicken in salad or along side.