Friday, March 9, 2012

Mediterranean Spring Salads

All images © Valery Rizzo

With spring soon approaching I was inspired to make my favorite thing, salad. While at the Park Slope Food Coop I came across a few specialty items which caught my eye and lead to some healthy creative dishes. I found some beautiful cranberry beans or frijoles romanos and some interesting farro pasta called Rustichella. I put these together with kale and baby spinach leaves with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of pecorino romano to make what I like to call my Pasta e Fagioli Salad with Kale and Baby Spinach. Reminiscent of the Pasta Fagioli my uncle Guglielmo makes in Southern Italy.

I also found these colorful cans of line-caught white tuna in olive oil from Spain. The cans were so nicely designed I had to have some. So I made a second salad, using the rest of the cranberry beans and the tuna together with escarole, arugula, a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some juice of a lemon for my Spanish Tuna and Frijole Salad with Escarole and Arugula. A hunk of bread for the tasty juice in the bottom of the dish and your all set. Wish my friend Eva from Barcelona was sharing this with me outside in the backyard, under the olive tree.

Soak overnight: Rinse and sort beans (1lb or 2 cups), then place in a large pot and cover with 6-8 cups of water. Let stand over night or at least 6-8 hours. Drain soak water and rinse beans. 

Cooking directions: Add 6 cups of water to drained and rinsed beans. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached. 1-1/2 hours. You can use the beans you need for your salad and save the rest for other meals.

Lacinato kale
Baby spinach leaves
Rustichella farro (you can use any meaty farro pasta)
Cranberry beans
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pecorino romano
Sea salt
Black pepper corns

I like to prepare these salads for one or two people per bowl but you can adjust the amount of ingredients for larger groups of people in a larger serving bowl as you desire.

In a salad bowl using Lacinato Kale and a serrated knife slice the leaves horizontally into 3/4 inch strips. Add baby spinach leaves. Add some cooked cranberry beans and cooked farro pasta. Drizzle extra-virgin oilve oil and add fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.Top off with a small amount of grated Pecorino Romano.

Ortiz Spanish White Tuna in can (you can use any white tuna in olive oil)
Cranberry beans
Baby Arugula
1 Lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Black pepper corns
A Pugliese loaf with sesame (or crusty sesame bread of choice)

In a salad bowl using a head of Escarole and a serrated knife slice the leaves horizontally into 3/4 inch strips. Add baby Arugula leaves. Add some cooked cranberry beans and 1/2 a can of tuna. Add a nice squeeze of the juice of 1/2 a lemon over the tuna. Drizzle some extra-virgin oilve oil and balsamic vinegar. Add fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Eat with a nice hunk of bread to soak up all the juices at the bottom of the bowl.