Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mixed Bean Salad and Ceramics from Helen Levi

All images © Valery Rizzo

Lately I have been inspired by ceramic artists in Brooklyn, only to find my good friend Helen Levi is among the top ceramicists on the scene today. Helen works in both the traditional brown clay as well as contrasting white porcelain clay, out of her studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Helen makes a porcelain colander, a variety of cups, mugs, glasses, bowls, plates, planters, creamers, sculptures and more recently beautiful porcelain fruit necklaces. You can find several of her pieces at the lovely Steven Alan Home Shop in Tribeca or at Helen's web shop. If that is not enough Helen is also a very talented photographer. To see some of her photographs visit her website here.

For the longest time I have been longing to make Chef Gennaro Contaldo's salad of mixed beans with tomato and arugula (from his cook book, Easy Italian) and thought it would go beautifully with the earthiness of Helen's dishes. It is a wonderfully healthy recipe using two kinds of beans, chickpeas, fava beans, peas and lentils, together with tomatoes, scallions, arugula, marjoram and sage. You just soak the dried beans and chickpeas overnight then cook them the next day while also cooking the lentils, fava beans and peas each separately until tender. Then you combine everything with the herbs, arugula, tomatoes, scallions and season with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. This could not be more simple or more nutritious.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can get creative with it and use any kind of beans you want or find. I did not really stick to the amounts suggested in the recipe, instead I just made 1 half cup to a cup of everything, added the amount of olive oil and vinegar needed and then saved a lot of it for the next day's lunch or added it to salads for the next couple of days. If it's easier for you to stick to Gennaro's recipe then please do.


Salad of Mixed Beans with Tomato and Arugula
Insalata di Legumi misti al Pomodoro

1 1/2 oz fresh fava beans (Pull the piece at the top like a string to open and reveal the beans)

1 1/2 oz fresh or frozen peas (I used frozen organic from the Park Slope Food Coop)

9oz soaked and precooked mixed beans, such as chickpeas, lentils, barlotti beans and black-eyed beans, well-drained. ( I used beans I found that the Food Coop, NYS Organic Merlot Beans and Pinta Beans and Garbanzo from Spain, as well as red lentils. I might suggest using green or brown lentils as the red lentils tend to be very soft but equally delicious and are pretty! just don't overcook if using the red)

4 salad tomatoes, deseeded and cut into small cubes

A bunch of arugula leaves

4 scallions, finely chopped

2 marjoram branches, leaves removed and stalks discarded

A few sage leaves (I used the sage and marjoram from my backyard garden)

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper (I used sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)


Cook the fava beans and peas until tender. drain and leave to cool.

Place the well-drained beans, fava beans and peas in a large bowl or serving dish and add the tomatoes, scallions, arugula and herbs.

Pour over the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix everything together.

Leave to rest for 10 min, then serve.

Serves 4


Not familiar with cooking beans here is a helpful link to get you started, and this link for advice on cooking lentils.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Valery,

    What a yummy sounding recipe! I’ll have to try this one out for myself.

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