Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bright and Springy Flageolet Salad

I have no idea what the weather has been like near you lately, but for us here in Toronto, it's felt like winter is just dragging its feet on the way out the door. Last weekend, the rain put me into a continuous funk that I didn't get out of until I was met by the sunshine today.

It probably helped that I got to get up at 9:30 as well. Usually I'm up 3 hours earlier.

I had great dinner plans with a friend for tonight that totally fell through in the wake of her work deadlines, so I found myself scrambling for something to make for dinner. I'd gone grocery shopping earlier in the day, but most of my meals had been bought with dark and dreary weather in mind, not the lemon sunshine and azure skies kind of day like we had.

Over the winter months, my cooking incorporates a lot of legumes. I love how hearty and stick-to-your-ribedness they are. I also love how much using them reduces our meat consumption and (by extension) our grocery bill. But, legumes aren't just for those pork rich casseroles, they also make great foils for bright flavours like lemon, capers and parsley.

Flageolet Salad with Lemons and Capers

(adapted from Nigel Slater's Real Food)


300 grams (about 2/3 of a pound) dried flageolet beans,
                  broken ones picked over and discarded
1 lemon, scrubbed and cut in half
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 stalk celery, cut into 4 inch hunks
3 bay leaves
kosher salt

4 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
a palmful of parsley leaves (20-30), coarsely chopped
4-5 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1. Place dried beans in a non-reactive container. Cover with cold water and let sit overnight. Beans will swell in size.

2. Drain beans from their soaking liquid and place in a large non reactive pot with lemon halves, garlic halves, bay leaves and celery.

DO NOT add salt at this point. Doing so will toughen the skins of the beans. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and cook, continuing to boil gently for 35-60 minutes (cooking time will depend on the freshness of your beans). Once beans are almost tender (45 minutes for me), add salt to cooking liquid. Continue to cook until completely tender.

3. In a food processor, pulse too mix together capers and garlic. Slowly add in oil, pouring through tube. Continue pulsing to add in lemon juice, parsley and mint. The mixture will resemble sludge, but you're actually aiming for that!

4. Remove celery, whole garlic, lemon halves and bay leaves from beans. You may also need to fish out some garlic skins. Drain beans and place in a large, non reactive bowl. Pour dressing mixture and toss gently to combine.

This salad needs a least a half hour to let the flavours combine and take the edge off the dried garlic. Feel free to let it mellow overnight. Be sure to leave it on the counter for at least a ½ hour before eating so the olive oil is in its liquid state.


janet said...

I am also loving the bean-centric dishes recently. I have been on the hunt, though, for flageolet beans in Toronto. Where did you buy yours?

Alyson said...

I got them from the dried bean shop in the basement level of the St. Lawrence Market. It's the only place I've found them so far!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the source of flageolets in Toronto - getting desperate. Want to have them with my Easter leg of lamb.

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