I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to New York, and as these things go, I wish I could have stayed a little longer. I didn’t know this before, but early summer in New York is nearly magical. There is this sense of boundless cheerfulness in the sun soaked air. I guess it comes from enduring an unpredictable winter.
The food was incredible too; I almost can’t believe how seamless it is to eat vegan in New York. There are practically dozens of restaurants dedicated to vibrant and flavourful plant-based cuisine. I wish I could have explored more of these joints… I mean, look at this salad, everything is plant-based!
Speaking of salads, this trip has sort of set the tone for how I want to eat this summer. I’m thinking mostly salads; lots of fresh, colourful and seasonal vegetables and fruits, beans and pulses and wholesome grains.
I think this mixed bean salad with cilantro vinaigrette is appropriate for easing into our summer of salads. As far as salads go, this one makes a substantial meal, or a filling side dish. Combining four varieties of beans with chewy farro, it’s tossed with crunchy sliced veggies and a heavy herby dressing; it’s a big nourishing salad.
It steals elements from this four bean and farro salad I shared a few years back, after I fell in love with farro in New York City. The vinaigrette is old and trusty too, it doesn’t sound very exciting but it’s to date one of my favourite dressings.
It’s tangy, herby and zesty with hints of sweetness. Use parsley if you’re not a cilantro person, or try this simple parsley vinaigrette instead.
I want to try this salad again later on in the season with white lima and gigante beans tossed with chopped cilantro and tomatoes, and a lighter vinaigrette. Before we get deep into the hazy days of summer though, I wanted to make a meal suitable for summer, yet akin to the hearty bean stews my mom used to make. It’s comforting, nutritious and quite easy to put together with ingredients easy to come by in the pantry and fridge. Make it a day ahead if you have time and let the beans soak up the dressing, it tastes even better.
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
- 1 cup cooked navy beans
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 cups cooked farro (you could also use wheat berries or rice)
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 celery stalks/ribs, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon chopped chives
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 - 2 limes
- 1 cup of loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 1 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, optional
- A pinch of salt to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Grab a large salad bowl and combine beans, farro, onion, bell pepper, celery, sun-dried tomatoes and chives
- Sprinkle with lime zest, salt and ground black pepper and mix
- Using a blender or food processor, combine lime juice, cilantro, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and salt
- Process for a few seconds at a time, adding the olive oil in bit by bit to let the vinaigrette emulsify
- Check for salt and pepper and adjust to taste
- Pour about 3/4 of vinaigrette onto salad and mix well to coat, save the remaining vinaigrette and use as dressing when serving the salad
- Let salad sit for 20 – 30 minutes to room temperature before serving to let the flavours meld