I finally got around to trying a few of my "must-try" recipes last night. If you dared to take a look at my bookmarks, you would find a sloppy array of random recipes meant to be placed into coherent catagories at some future date. I usually remember to at least bookmark the site where I found the recipe, but it's soon forgotten in the shuffle of life. Sometimes I wonder how I stay so motivated to search for and find new recipes, when in all likelihood, I won't get around to cooking half the recipes that I find interesting. I guess that was the motivation behind this blog, though. It feels good to actually try new things.
Well, I'm very glad I got around to trying Alanna's Tuscan Bean Salad. Alanna has a great blog called A Veggie Venture. Check it out when you have some time to browse her plethora of recipes. When my vegetable consumption needs a kick in the ass, that's where I go. I also appreciate that she gives the nutritional info for her recipes and details any modifications she makes.
If you are new to Chez Megane, you could be surprised to learn that I'm a recovering salad hater. There are still more than a few nights where I find it impossible to make a salad. But, I'm making an effort. Looking back, I actually have quite a few salads here. And here, here and here. Wait...just taking one moment to pat myself on the back... I've come to terms with the fact that I need a salad with a lot of stuff in it. It has to taste like something besides greens, which is why this bean salad recipe is so perfect. It has so much flavor, color and vibrance. It's my new favorite so I hope you try it.
I used Alanna's recipe almost exactly, but substituted balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar, and red onion for the white. The recipe calls for oil-free dried tomatoes, but I could only find the ones jarred in oil here, so my salad wasn't quite as healthy. I did follow Alanna's suggestion of leaving out the cheese. I didn't really miss it since I was serving this as a side dish, but next time I'll add it. I enjoyed that this dressing is almost exactly the same as my standard vinaigrette. The only thing I would add next time would be some chopped fresh basil.
Tuscan Bean Salad
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or balsamic)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large (28 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (if dried, reconstitute in hot water)
1/2 cup chopped black olives (kalamata)
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2/3 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, optional
maybe 2-3 cups fresh spinach, sliced into strips
Combine dressing ingredients in a salad bowl and whisk until well incorporated.
Gently mix in the beans, tomatoes, olives, onion and mozzarella. If not serving immediately, refrigerate at this point. Add the spinach and basil just before serving so they don't wilt too much.