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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Here’s a three-bean salad that’s literally a world away from the conventional salad bar-style syrupy three-bean salads. This one, filled with Mediterranean notes, is buoyantly clear-flavored. It’s come a long way since its starting point, Bean Salad, Politiko-Style, from my beloved, weather-beaten Grecian Gourmet Cookbook. That bean salad was delicious, but even to my pre-fat-conscious taste, too oil-heavy. It also called only for white beans; for my money, a little boring and none too pretty. Still, Bean Salad, Politiko-Style got me started. I commenced to tinker, going for more color, more flavor, less oil, beginning the journey to the salad below.
1. Bring 1½ inches water to a boil in a pot over medium heat. Place a steaming basket over the boiling water and add the green beans. Cover and steam until the beans are still crisp-tender with a little bite, but have lost all rawness (“just long enough to take the fuzz off them,” as an old friend used to say). It the beans are slim and tender, this should be 3 to 4 minutes; fatter beans, which are no less delicious in this salad, can take 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the steamer from the pot, reserving the steaming water. Rinse the green beans under cold water, drain well, and transfer to a bowl.
2. Repeat the same process with the limas over the same water, steaming for about 10 minutes. Once they’re cooked, rinsed with cold water, and drained, combine with the green beans.
3. Repeat the same process with the carrots, again using the same steaming water, steaming for 1 minute. Rinse, drain, and add to the beans in the bowl.
4. Leaving the cover off of the steaming pot, remove the steamer, and raise the heat to a hard boil. Cook to reduce the steaming liquid to 1 tablespoon or less, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch closely so you don’t scorch the liquid.
5. While the steaming liquid is reducing, add the chickpeas, celery, and red onion to the bean mixture, along with salt and pepper to taste (be sure to add enough salt; beans require it to come up to full flavor). Squeeze the first lemon into the salad through a strainer (to catch seeds); if it’s not very juicy, squeeze in the juice of the second lemon. Stir in the reduced steaming liquid, minced parsley and the oil (much, much more oil is traditional in these sorts of salads than is called for here, but I don’t feel that it is necessary for a full-flavored, pleasing salad).
6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours; overnight is better. Before serving, bring to room temperature, taste, and, if necessary, re-season. (If you didn’t already use it, you might need that second lemon now.) Serve as a first-course salad as part of a Middle Eastern-style feast of small dishes, or as one element in a component dinner.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 10 servings, 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, and using 2 tablespoons of olive oil.