The summer of 1989, I was reading the Los Angeles Times food section, and this recipe jumped out and said "fix me, fix me." It's a Paul Prudhomme recipe - he had written the short article about it, and said this was a family favorite, especially for outdoor, barbecue dinners. That's exactly what I use it for, and have done so multiple times over those ensuing years. I've made a few changes to it. The original called for bok choy. I use Napa Cabbage instead. And I use my own combination of beans - usually whatever I happen to have on the pantry shelf. Additionally, bacon was added on top, when served. I eliminated that because it was just fine without it. If stored for a day, the bacon gets limp and wet - not very appetizing.
It's really quite easy to make, although it does take some assembly time, and some prepping of the vegies. But the bulk of it is canned beans - a variety of them, and you whisk up the dressing and pour over. The dressing is mostly vinegar - cider vinegar - and you'd think that with vinegar as the main ingredient, you'd have a hard time eating it. Not so. Once it sits for a while, something chemical happens when you pour acid and oil over carbs. It mellows the beans and completely eliminates the acidity of the vinegar. It just leaves a little tang and permeates the entire salad. It must be left to marinate for at least several hours, though, so don't be tempted to eat it right away. Otherwise that chemical action doesn't have time to occur. Although this probably is used mostly as a side kind of salad, it also can make the meal itself. It's satisfying enough. It has some protein with all the beans, and it's filling. It's the dressing that makes it special. It keeps for a few days, but then the Napa cabbage begins to wilt significantly, so eat it up within 2-3 days after preparation.
And I want you to pay attention to the fat content this time - it's almost nil. Note that there are only 2 T. of oil in the entire salad to serve 12. I highly recommend this.
The BEST Bean Salad
Recipe: Adapted from a Paul Prudhomme recipe
Serving Size : 12
16 ounces black beans -- canned, drained
16 ounces white beans -- canned, drained
16 ounces blackeyed peas -- canned, drained
2 cups tomato -- chopped
1 cup cucumber -- seedless, chopped
3/4 cup Napa cabbage -- sliced
3/4 cup red bell pepper -- chopped
3/4 cup red onion -- diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
15 whole basil leaves -- minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar -- or brown sugar substitute
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano -- crushed
1. In a large non-metal bowl, toss together the drained beans (I use low-salt beans when possible), tomatoes, cucumbers, Napa cabbage, bell peppers, onions and garlic powder.
2. In a blender combine the vinegar, oil, basil, brown sugar, black pepper and oregano and blend until combined. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture, stir, cover and chill for several hours. Will keep for several days. Makes about 2 quarts.
Serving Ideas : Could be a meal on its own. Wonderful with grilled meat.
NOTES : This recipe is SO low in fat it hardly even registers fat grams. At first you might think there's a misprint with the amount of vinegar, but it is correct. The beans absorb the vinegar, which lightens the bean's heaviness. According to Paul Prudhomme, combining oils and acids make the heaviest starches disappear on your palate. If you prefer, you can add raw chopped zucchini, green bell pepper instead of the red, or a combination, and if desired, cooked, crumbled bacon bits could be added as well if you don't mind the extra fat. Any combination of beans will work. The original recipe called for bok choy, but the first time I made the recipe the market didn't have it so I bought Napa cabbage instead and have decided I like it better.
Per Serving: 426 Calories; 4g Fat (7.6% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 75g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 18mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
To view a printable recipe, click on the title at the top.