Buzz contributor Deborah Brooks is back with the first in what we hope will be a continuing series on vegan cooking with fresh vegetables from the Larchmont Farmers Market.
Having chosen to eat a plant-based diet this past year, I have been conscious of making sure that I get enough protein at mealtime. A delicious way to increase protein intake is with beans. There are so many varieties, both dried and canned, that can be included either whole or mashed in your favorite recipes, or just tossed into a salad.
This Jewel Salad is from my mom’s recipe file, a recipe that she created and I have loved through the years for its contrasting textures of creamy beans and crisp vegetables. She named it such, as the vibrant colors of the beans and vegetables reminded her of jewels. Her original recipe was an ode to 1970s cooking and used a package of thawed frozen mixed vegetables and bottled Italian dressing.
Food is fashion and convenience was the fashion of the day. I’ve updated it to use the many wonderful vegetables and fresh pressed olive oils available to us living in SoCal. I try to buy as much as I can at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market and fill in the rest at the local market.
If you’re pressed for time, feel free to replace the fresh carrots, corn and green beans with frozen and the homemade dressing with your favorite bottled vinaigrette, as my mom did. It’s still delicious! This is great on its own as a light lunch served on a bed of greens or used as a side dish for sandwiches and plant based burgers and sausages.
Jewel Salad and Vinaigrette Dressing
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinse
2/3 cup chopped celery
½ cup small-diced carrot
1 cup (2 ears) blanched, fresh shucked corn * see note to blanch
2 dozen green beans, blanched, cut into 2 inch slices * see note to blanch
½ c sliced pimento stuffed green olives
1/3 c chopped jarred pimentos
¼ c finely chopped red onion
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh dill
6 T red wine vinegar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp sugar
2 T finely minced shallot
1 clove finely minced garlic
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
In a medium sized bowl, stir salt and sugar in the vinegar until dissolved. Add shallot, garlic, mustard and oregano and a few good cracks pepper. Mix well. Stream EVOO into vinegar mixture and using a whisk, mix vigorously to incorporate oil. I under season with salt and add to the salad if necessary. You will have leftover dressing. Store the rest in the fridge and use on mixed greens or as a marinade.
Put all ingredients, except the vinaigrette dressing, in a large mixing bowl. Toss to evenly distribute vegetables and herbs. Add ¼-1/3 cup dressing and mix well. Everyone has a different level of dressing to vegetable ratio palate, so dress, as you would like. I used 1/3 cup. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and few good cracks of fresh ground black pepper if needed and mix again. You can serve immediately but it tastes better as it sits and marinates in the refrigerator. When serving, add sprigs of fresh dill to garnish. Always store leftovers in the refrigerator. Should keep fresh 3-5 days.
*To blanch vegetables. Have a large bowl of ice water (ice bath) by the stove. Fill a medium sized saucepan 2/3 full with water and boil. Add green beans to boiling water and cook 2 minutes. With tongs carefully remove beans to the ice water bath. Add the 2 ears of corn and boil for 3 minutes and then carefully remove corn with tongs to the ice bath. When cooled, dry vegetables thoroughly and prepare as noted. Blanching par cooks vegetables to preserve color and crisp texture.