RECIPE: Meet pizza salad, a family-friendly plate of tomatoes, mozzarella and marinated beans
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By Joe Yonan
If you're a fan of the convenience and versatility of canned beans but you've thought they could use a flavour boost, I've got two words for you: Marinate them.
Beans can soak up the flavours in a simple combination of vinegar, olive oil, garlic, basil and red-pepper flakes – and they can do it even more quickly with the application of a little heat.
The following use of this idea comes from Jenny Rosenstrach's new book, The Weekday Vegetarians which is full of her ideas for eating meatless five days a week and then being free for carnivorous splurges on two. Rosenstrach calls for marinating the beans in the refrigerator for as little as 15 minutes and as long as five days. She doesn't call for warming, but I knew – and verified in testing – that it jump-starts the whole affair so effectively it's worth incorporating into the method.
Marinated beans have all sorts of uses, from simple side dish to grain-bowl topping, but Rosenstrach tosses them into what she calls "pizza salad."
The brilliant thing about it is that the beans' marinade becomes the salad dressing; unlike with meat marinades, there's no need to worry about any food-safety issues in the reusing.
Pizza Salad With Marinated White Beans (Serves 6)
This recipe proves that even canned beans can take on a ton of flavour from a marinade, which does double duty as the dressing. To make it vegan, substitute baked tofu for the mozzarella and leave out the Parmesan, or choose a vegan version such as the Violife brand.
FOR THE MARINATED BEANS
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, halved
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 rosemary sprig, left whole
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked white beans, such as cranberry, cannellini, or great northern, or two (425g) cans, rinsed and drained
FOR THE SALAD
140g lettuce, such as bibb, little gem or baby greens of your choice (about 8 cups)
1 pint quartered or sliced tomatoes, preferably grape or ripe heirlooms
1 large shallot (3 ounces), thinly sliced
85g bocconcini (small mozzarella balls) or 1cm cubes fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup (56g) shaved Parmesan cheese
8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
Make the marinated beans: In a small skillet over medium heat, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, black pepper, basil and red pepper flakes. Toss in the beans, bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.)
Make the salad: In a large shallow bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, shallot, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. Toss in the beans with their marinade and serve.