Another So Cal Summer Salad! Yay! Actually I was sort of feigning excitement; to be honest, I was almost tempted not to make this salad. You see, this salad came from the June issue of Bon Appetit, and this particular issue was the one where I had found my recipe for Arugula, Fennel, and Apricot Salad... and well, we all know how that turned out. A recipe for disappointment and pain (specifically a battle wound that has just finally healed), and that is certainly not what The Cilantropist is striving for.
So, needless to say, it was with some trepidation and marked hesitation that I approached this recipe. (I also decided to be a little superstitious and not use my nemesis The Shun. I figured if I brought out my trusty Henkels workhorse I would be less likely to cut myself and would instantly increase my chances of eating a delicious salad. This is ridiculous, I know, but I refuse to apologize for the crazy way my mind works.)
It started out like the previous Bon Appetit salad: I enjoyed all the ingredients, the flavors seemed like they would meld together flawlessly, and the colors were fresh and bright. Then I was chopping everything up, and somehow the combination of the scents wafting up from the cutting board and the small tastes I took when I quickly licked my fingers (we all do this right? A little taste test here and there...) seemed somehow, just off.
I began to have a nagging feeling that despite my best efforts to make this salad great, I was going to end up with a bowl of some mediocre beans and veggies, or worse, a salad that I would refuse to eat. However, I was relieved to discover that in this short and simple recipe (essentially throw all the stuff in a bowl and mix it up), I had overlooked one important step. "Let marinate at room temperature 1 hour."
Now. Although this was a relief because it gave the salad at least 60 whole minutes to elevate itself to greatness, I was also still skeptical. I don't know about you, but many times when a recipe says, "let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes," or, "refrigerate for at least one hour," I am always a little doubtful if this will really improve the flavor or texture of the dish. I am 100% certain there are some preparations where resting time or refrigeration (especially for baking, eg.) are absolutely critical to achieving the proper final product. But would it really make that much of a difference for this little bean salad?
Well, as it turns out, the marinating time made all the difference in the world. I was truly shocked, in a good way, when I tasted the salad after letting it sit for 60+ minutes. The lemon flavor was intense, the garlic was there, everything was crunchy, and the red onions gave the dish the perfect bite. And if you are a dill fan, this salad had plenty of it! I think this was a really nice change of pace from the type of salads I usually eat, and I bet it would be for you too. Give this salad a rest, for an hour or even overnight, and take it to your next BBQ or picnic with friends.
Just make sure you are not like me, and you check your skepticism at the door.
*Update 07/03/11: I just submitted this recipe to Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans! Head on over to their site to check out more vegetarian recipes for summer parties and barbecues!
Lemony White Bean and Tomato Salad with Dill
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010
(double all the ingredients to serve 6-8)
15 ounce can of cannellini (great northern) beans, rinsed and drained throughly
1 1/2 cups halved sweet cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest from one lemon
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at room temperature for at least one hour, or in the refrigerator overnight. Depending on your preference, serve chilled, or let come to room temperature before serving.