Sunday, August 2, 2020

Vacation All I Ever Wanted: Cannellini Bean Salad

Ages ago, before children, S. and I biked the P'tit Train du Nord, a rail trail in the Laurentians in Quebec. I can't remember how we happened across the trail any more -- it was probably something S. found -- but it was a unique experience, and one of two times I've ever done a multi-day bike trip. When we did it, you could make arrangements with bed and breakfasts along the way, and a company would transport your luggage for you, so all you really had to do was keep pumping (it was entirely up hill) and enjoy the scenery.

It was along that trail that I ate one of the more memorable meals of my life, in a little bed and breakfast (I think this was it) in the village of Nomininigue. The meal wasn't elaborate -- in fact, the beauty of it was its simplicity. There was celeriac soup, and vegetables fresh from the garden, and a bean salad -- chickpeas, if memory serves -- that made me wonder if I'd ever really eaten chick peas before. I remember the air being crisp and clear, with perhaps a hint of sharp wood smoke and pine. I marveled at how the bounty on my plate could all come from the garden out back, how our host (Guillaume) managed to turn next to nothing into a feast.

Our vacation plans have been thwarted multiple times over this year. First we canceled our trip abroad back in April, seeing the inevitable beginning to unfold. Then we canceled all of the kids' camps, with the exception of a two week part day dance camp for N, which kept her from climbing the walls, at least briefly. All the while we've both been working. And finally, when I thought I would catch a break next week and be able to take a long weekend away from my computer, my boss scheduled two important meetings for the days I'd just asked to take off. To say that I was upset about losing my most recent attempt at some mental health time would be an understatement.

But this weekend we somehow managed to slow down, just for a little while, and it reminded me of the magical night in Nomininigue, the way we stopped to watch the blue sky and the clouds, the things we marveled at growing in our own garden (including a full fledged pumpkin), a half an hour of wading in a creek when we'd been looking for a way to cool off for weeks. And at the end of the day on Saturday, there were heirloom tomatoes still warm from the garden, and home grown cucumbers, and a simply herby bean salad. And just like that, a weekend felt just a little bit like a vacation.

Here's wishing you some small peace in your little corner of a quarantined world.

Cannellini Bean Salad
h/t to Yotam Ottolenghi, whose recipe in Plenty More was the inspiration for this salad. He uses quinoa, which S. is allergic to (and he couldn't find any in the store), but double the beans worked out just fine.

2/3 c. flat leaf parsley leaves, finely shredded
2/3 c. mint leaves, finely shredded
3 to 5 green onions, green and white parts only, thinly sliced
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 large lemon, skin and seeds removed, flesh finely chopped
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper

Add the parsley, mint, onion, beans, lemon, allspice olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper to a bowl. Stir together and serve. 

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