Del.icio.us Calypso Bean Salad
I have written often about my culinary heritage, particularly the influence of the composers of the Aunts’ Recipe Book, my dad’s four younger sisters. The youngest, Emily, is the only one who’s made a career out of food; for years, she ran her own catering business and is now the director of the cooking school at the Everyday Gourmet in Jackson, MS. Interestingly, my memories of her contributions to my love of food include really sugary cereals, Butterfingers, and bowls of melted cheese: when I stayed at her house as a kid, she let me eat WHATEVER I wanted.
These days she often sends me interesting specialty food items from work, for which I am constantly on the lookout for creative preparations. The most recent packages have included these gorgeous white and black beans, labeled Calypso Beans on the bag, and a bright, fruity Meyer lemon olive oil, which I have been rationing.
I had visions of a lemony salad including both gifts from Aunt Em, and a few weeks ago, I planned to make such a concoction, adding leftover grilled chicken for a substantial weeknight supper.
One of the things I love about reading other people’s food blogs is that I am constantly inspired to create new dishes. The only problem is that I find myself with vague memories of recipes I saw one place or the other, but no idea exactly where.
For instance, I knew I had somewhere read of just such a salad–with beans and a lemony dressing. But, for the life of me, I could not recall where I saw it. I did some searching and nothing looked familiar. I emailed the resident veggie expert, Alanna, to see if it was perhaps a recipe of hers. No, she replied, but she’d keep her eyes open.
And, she found it!
Of course, by the time we’d figured it out, the salad had long been made and eaten, with no guidance from a recipe, so my version looks very different from Gabriella’s.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, just in case you find yourself in such a predicament–a vague recollection of a recipe and no help from Google–I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned along the way to help me solve this organizational problem (and then the recipe for the salad).
First, Google’s Blogsearch. Alanna alerted me to this handy tool, and if you want to search for a recipe, but you only want results from bloggers, this search page will help you do just that.
Second, del.icio.us. If you’re looking for a super-easy, user-friendly way to store bookmarks to recipes online, this site might be for you. Elise at Simply Recipes posted a helpful tutorial on how to use it, and I finally got around to following her suggestions. You can see my list of recipe links here, and if you start yours, you can add me to your network and we can share. Isn’t that fun?
And now, for the bean salad! Once the beans are cooked, this is a snap to throw together. It keeps well and would be perfect for a picnic. (Not that anyone can stand to be outside around here!)
The inspiration for this recipe, it turns out, comes from Gabriella at My Life as a Reluctant Housewife, and I’m pretty sure I spied it at an ARF/5-a-day round-up at Sweetnicks. Since my version turned out much differently (since I didn’t find the recipe until after the fact), I’ll contribute this variation to this week’s Tuesday event.
Thanks to Alanna for helping me locate the recipe, to Gabriella for inspiring this creation, to Elise for the lesson about del.icio.us, to Cate for hosting ARF/5-a-day Tuesday’s every week, and to Aunt Em for the ingredients.
And who says cooking isn’t collaborative?
Calypso Bean Salad
3 cups dry calypso beans (white beans would probably work just as well)
2 cups water
1 clove garlic, quartered
1 t. lemon pepper
1/4 cup lemon-flavored olive oil (of course, I’m sure regular would work too)
1/2 t. Kosher salt
1 T. fresh oregano, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (it strikes me now that the first time I made this salad–and photographed it–I used fresh tomatoes; either will work)
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup Greek olives, minced
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 chicken breasts, sliced (optional)
Cover the beans with water and soak overnight. They should absorb most of the liquid. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add the quartered garlic clove, the trimmings from the two lemons, a sprinkle of salt and lemon pepper, and the beans. Simmer the beans for 2-3 hours, or until they reach the consistency you like. (I’m really funny about bean texture; I don’t like them mushy, especially in a salad, so I tend to undercook them. 2 hours was a perfect texture for me.) Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the juice from the 2 lemons, lemon pepper, salt, and fresh oregano. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Mix in the olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and chicken if using. Toss this mixture with the beans and top with the feta. Serves 4; refrigerates well.