I suspect that people in most other states in the country chortle when we talk about our "summer". If the temperature hits 75 degrees people begin to complain that it is too hot. We all wear sweaters most of the summer and think it is normal. But, when we do get some of those 70ish degree days, the sky is blindingly blue and the sun peeks in and out between the clouds, we all rejoice and head for the grill. I usually grill a whole chicken, or a piece of salmon, but I always want a chilled salad that is not the run of the mill, lettuce, tomato and croutons. I often turn to orzo salad, but knowing the health benefits of beans I've been trying different types of bean salads. They are fresh, crunchy, good for you and most importantly - yummy. How can you beat that? The other plus of these types of salads is that they are so adaptable. You don't like peppers, no problem, throw in some extra tomatoes. Not a fan of red onions, use sweet onions or even just spring onions. The dressing is also incredibly versatile. You can make the basic vinaigrette and throw in a bunch of chopped up herbs for a fresh difference. No herbs around or don't want to spend money buying them - throw in some BBQ rub. Yep, that's what I said BBQ rub - use it instead of salt if it already has salt in it.
THE RECIPE (adapted from Dean and Deluca The Food and Wine cookbook - fabulous book by the way - I use it often)
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 large lemon (optional)
2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, raspberry, white wine)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves Garlic, mashed or minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Cooked chickpeas, or black beans
2 Large tomatoes, diced
1 Green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, diced
1 Yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, diced
1 bunch Radishes, diced
1 bunch Cilantro, stemmed and chopped
1 bunch Green onions, diced
Mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl or jar. Mix together all of the vegetables. Add the beans. Pour the vinaigrette over the beans and veggies and let sit for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.
Above the garbanzo bean version, below the black bean version. And they keep well in the fridge for at least a couple of days.
Now I'm not much for kitchen gadgets and Alton Brown always says don't buy anything that only has a single purpose. But there are a few things that I find very useful and end up using again and again. I want to let you all know about those things. The first one is this oil mister. I use it almost everytime I grill. It's wonderful for basting my beer can chicken. I can spritz olive oil on the grill and on the meat itself. And one of the best parts is that it is non-aerosol. You just fill 'er up, pump it and out she sprays with a strong, fine mist of oil. You could use it for anything really, though. Put some apple juice in for spraying on your ribs on the smoker. Oh, how about vodka to spary on your salmon on the grill. (ok I've never tried that, but you could...)
So promise that you'll try and make some variation of this bean salad to accompany your summer grill.