Red Bean Salad served with a Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette
Red bean salad is such an easy dish to make. All you have to do is toss some red kidney beans, shredded pickled carrots, corn kernels and other colorful veggies and you're ready to please a large crowd. It's an especially good complement of proteins for vegetarians. Just serve with crostini (thinly sliced grilled bread drizzled with olive oil) or garlic bread (for the carb) and you're ready to go.
I got inspired by Chrystal and Amir, the wonderful folks from The Duo Dishes. They created an amazing flavorful spicy cilantro vinaigrette that I thought would go perfectly with my salad.
Yields: 122 eggplants
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig rosemary, torn in half
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups corn kernels (canned), drained
12 oz green beans
2 red bell peppers
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 fleur de sel, or regular salt, to taste
3/4 teaspoon green peppercorns, to taste
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 cup spicy cilantro vinaigrette
For the carrots: Peel the carrots. Shred the whole carrot. If you use the Messermeister tool (see tips), you'll get long threads of carrot pieces. Cut into about 3-inch pieces. Place the carrots in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar. Drizzle with lemon juice. Toss well. Set aside.
For the green beans: Wash the green beans. Blanch them for about 2 minutes in boiling water and transfer into an ice bath. Drain thoroughly of all water, then pat dry on a paper towel. Do not overcook the green beans; they should still be tender and crisp, not mushy, or you would have depleted all the healthy nutrients. Trim the ends of the beans. Cut the beans into 1/2 inch long pieces. Set aside.
For the eggplants: Trim eggplants and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the eggplant slices on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Place 2 pieces of rosemary on the grill to let it release its nice aroma. Lightly coat the eggplant slices with oil using a silicone brush. Place the slices on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 4 minutes on each side) over medium heat. As soon as the eggplant is grilled, season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan. Dice the grilled eggplants into small chunks. Set aside.
For the bell pepper: Wash the bell peppers, pat dry, brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running water; the skin will come right off. Seed it, then dice the bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Assembly time: Combine all the vegetables. Add the cilantro. Drizzle with the spicy cilantro vinaigrette.
This dish is perfect if you're hosting a buffet-style party. It's a time saver. You can grill the vegetables in advance and pour the vinaigrette when you're ready to serve.
To get an appealing presentation, it's important to get nice grill marks on the veggies. I use a cast iron grill but you can also use a non-stick griddle pan, which is less expensive and as efficient as the cast iron one.
For the spicy cilantro vinaigrette: The Duo Dishes vinaigrette was not spicy enough to our taste so I just added a hint more Serrano pepper that I previously roasted (charred and skinned). I also added only 1 teaspoon of pickled garlic for a milder taste. Recipe adapted from the The Duo Dishes with their permission: In a mini-blender., mix 2 tablespoons of agave nectar with 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice and 2 teaspoons of horseradish mustard. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 Serrano pepper pulp, 2 teaspoons of ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of finely minced pickled garlic and 3 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro. Mix well. Add 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil. Stir well. Set aside.
Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called Agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made out of the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It is very popular in Mexico.
It is not heated during production and is considered raw, which make it very healthy like raw honey. Unlike raw honey, agave nectar is easy to spread beacuse of its consistency.
How to make ginger paste for the spicy cilantro vinaigrette: Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root.
You can find pickled garlic in any Asian store.
For the salad dressing, it's essential to add mustard which is a great binder (it contains some lecithin) for a smooth-textured vinaigrette.
For more vinaigrette recipes, click on the link.
As I did for my grilled vegetable platter with French tarragon, I placed rosemary sprigs on the grill to add an earthy flavor to the eggplant.
I might not have praised this gadget enough. I found this wonderful tool from Messermeister. It's THE best utensil for julienning vegetables. Is that a verb? Anyway, this is also very convenient to shred carrot and also to make eggrolls. It's fast, as well.
If you like a healthy vegetable medley, check out my savory goat cheese panna cotta with Beluga lentil relish.
Using a good quality salt will bring so much more flavor to your dish, especially to your salads. There are so many kinds that you can try: Red Hawaiian salt, Himalayan sea salt, Fleur de sel from Madagascar, Fine Salt from Bayonne, Sel de Guerande, and of course the Fleur de Sel from the Island of Noirmoutier. For this recipe, I used the Fleur de Sel de l'Ile de Re, which I got on my trip to Paris last June. It's hand-picked, not treated and not washed. All the minerals are still there. It's very flavorful and surprisingly not as salty as regular table salt. I like testing and making my own seasoning salt. I'll post the recipe for some of these concoctions later.
Published By: on June 15, 2009.