Picnic bean salad

Summer bean salad (Sheryl Julian/Globe Staff)
July 1, 2009

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Serves 6

Lots of cooks bring baked beans to picnics - even in summer. If you want something more appropriate to the season and quicker to make, try this bean salad. Use the highly flavored French flageolet beans (available at specialty markets) or white beans, both soaked overnight. The following day, bring them to a boil and let them simmer for an hour or so. Add crunch (celery), sweetness (tomatoes), salt (olives), and bite (scallions), along with plenty of parsley.

1 pound dried flageolets or white beans such as navy or Great Northern, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, or to taste
3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on a diagonal
5 small tomatoes, cut into wedges, or 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Drain the beans. In a large flameproof casserole, combine the beans with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pan, and simmer the flageolets for 25 minutes and the white beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender.

2. Tip the beans into a colander, rinse with a cup of cool water, and transfer to a large wide bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil with the salt and pepper. Set aside, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the beans are cool.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the vinegar. Taste for seasoning and add more oil, vinegar, salt, or pepper, if you like.

4. Stir in the celery, tomatoes, olives, scallions, and parsley. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to mellow. Sheryl Julian