Now that we can safely say the snow is gone (until November, that is, or maybe October), it’s time to move the dinner table outdoors. Minnesotans take advantage of the warm weather the summer brings, and many find their calendars filling up with picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. With each invitation comes the inevitable question: “What do you want me to bring?” If you’re assigned a salad, dump the gloppy mayonnaise-based dishes and give this fresh-tasting version a try.
Created out of the dwindling contents of the refrigerator and pantry one evening, this salad — a dreamy combination that highlights the creaminess of the beans, the sweetness of the pepper, and the crunch of the cucumber — is a snap to make and even easier to make your own. Don’t like cannellini beans? Use your preferred legume. Out of red wine vinegar? Drizzle on the champagne or balsamic variety instead. No fresh rosemary around? Try thyme or shredded basil. Double or triple the ingredients to feed a crowd, or use the quantities below to prepare enough for a family of four. Toss the salad together the night before your event so the flavors can meld in the refrigerator overnight, and you’ve got a crowd-pleasing side dish that you can savor all summer long.
Rosemary-Scented Bean Salad
Makes 4 servings
1 (15-oz) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
1 red or orange pepper, chopped
1 c chopped seedless cucumber
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. For optimal flavors, place in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before tossing and serving.