Our younger son’s sweet friend – stalwart Spain hiker with rose-colored day pack full of treats and sundries, always a cheerful sight up ahead on the trail – is from Thailand. A good and adventurous cook, she made the Santa Pau beans as soon as she got home and sent a photo and the recipe. It’s a white bean salad adaptation (with no added Thai magic she assured me).
I’ve never made a bean salad before (so many new things with the bean project), so I cooked the beans using Mark Bittman’s “Tuscan Bean” recipe. It called for sage, and the sage plant in the garden is a three-foot, flowering giant with many small new leaves.
I did read in Bittman about how to cook beans (more stalling). Santa Pau beans are small, at least the ones I have, smaller than black-eyed peas. (And I read in Deborah that size does not determine cooking time – age does.) I’d always thought one was not supposed to add salt to the cooking water, (Bittman calls that a common misperception). Deborah says to add salt when beans have begun to soften but aren’t done; Bittman says to add it in the middle if you want, but for sure to add it before the end of cooking.
The recipe called for tossing the beans together with sliced red onions (I substituted red scallions from the CSA, Italian parsley (I used the ordinary kind from the garden which is also huge and unfortunately about to flower), pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, plum tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Then added two cups of torn arugula.
The beans were great – and the salad! And like lots of things even better for next day summer lunch as the flavors mingle.
It’s taking me a while to break into our carried-home treasure stash which includes Catalan tomato preserve packed in a wooden box – perfect on a sourdough baguette. Next time!