Well, it’s been quite a rowdy couple of weeks! For some reason, I didn’t expect to be that stressed out during the week that I both started a new career and moved into my apartment in a new town. Total blood pressure rocket! Who knew?
So I cook now for a living. I’m definitely at the bottom of the totem pole, but I’m at a good place, with good people around me who are patient and encouraging, so while the job is far from easy, it’s feeling right so far. And right is all I need. I’m still having the occasional “What on earth am I doing in this country?” but I’ve been finding ways to get through those moments, and things are rolling along.
I’ve got the weekend off, and so far, I haven’t really left the house. Not even for the farmers’ market eight blocks away. This morning I slept in, read a magazine that told me how to organize every facet of my sorry existence, and put garlic, beets, and squash in the oven to roast for later eats. I also threw some white beans in to soak and thought about how I never would have had the patience to soak dry beans before I left for Peace Corps. Tonight I cooked the beans through and tossed them together with the odds and ends of jars left over from a wedding shower my roommate had thrown for her sister last weekend.
For many years, I considered a bean salad something to be avoided at potlucks. They were canned kidney beans mixed with overcooked green beans, saturated with Italian dressing. It kept on showing up in buffets everywhere I went, and it continued to win only an averted gaze from my roving eyes. It wasn’t until I lived in Bulgaria that I finally gave in and tried cold tart white beans (which, in Bulgarian, are called “bob”. That was one of the first Bulgarian words that I learned, and still one of my favorites) – and, lo and behold, they were tasty! Not mush, not loaded with chemically-thickened dressing or, heaven forbid, ketchup. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan, and whenever I put beans on to soak, I expect that I’ll end up making a little salad with at least a few of them.
So here’s a great fridge dump white bean salad. No, you don’t get measurements. Trust yourself. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, use something else. Root through the chill chest. Brazenly. If you’ve got a balance between mellow, fresh, and tart, you’ll be safe.
In a bowl combine a few handfuls of cooked white beans with some diced red onion, the cloves of a head of roasted garlic (squeeze ’em out like toothpaste), a few capers, some chopped canned artichoke hearts, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, five or six quartered mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini), six or seven trimmed halved green beans, a little chiffonaded basil, a little chopped parsley, and a couple of glugs each of rice wine vinegar and decent olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat – with bread, if you’ve got it.