Three Bean Salad

   This classic American Three Bean Salad is lighter than many of the recipes out there, but it’s the best one I’ve had.  Filling and tangy, with plenty of protein, this salad travels well.  The fresh, raw crunch of the celery and shallot are a great contrast with the silky beans.  Three Bean Salads have supposedly been around since the 1800’s, and possibly became so popular because they needed little refrigeration, and hence were often brought to picnics and outings.  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain off most of the marinade.

THREE BEAN SALAD

Makes about 8 to 10 servings?

INGREDIENTS
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed,  reserve 3 Tablespoons of bean liquid
15 oz. can green beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can yellow wax beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium-to-large stalk celery, diced fine
1 large shallot  chopped fine,  or 1/3 of a medium white onion
1/3 Cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch cayenne  (a pinch = 1/16th teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS
Take three Tablespoons of bean liquid from the can of kidney beans, and set aside.  In a large non-metal bowl and with a wooden spoon, gently mix the green beans, wax beans, celery and onion.  In a separate small bowl or glass, whisk together the bean liquid, vinegar, oil, sugar, and seasonings.  Add the rinsed-and-drained kidney beans and the vinegar dressing to the green-bean mixture.  Fold this salad gently with a wooden spoon to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.  Stir gently with wooden spoon before serving (we are trying not to mash the kidney beans).  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain most of the marinade off and back into the serving bowl.

Notes:  This would also be good in a salad-in-a-jar situation.  For more salad ideas, check out the Salad category on this site.

Cinnamon Stick Beets or Quick Pickled Beets

IMG_2556      These Quick Pickled Beets are an easy and delicious way to preserve fresh beets for weeks in the fridge.  They bring a rare and beautiful color to salads, but my favorite way to eat them is in hummus wraps with pan-toasted almonds.  Many recipes for pickled beets call for cloves, but I found that flavor too medicinal.  After making these three times, I settled on a three-inch stick of cinnamon in each jar, for a complex hint of spice that tempers the earthiness of the beets.   For other preserving recipes, check out the Pickles category.

CINNAMON STICK BEETS  or  QUICK PICKLED BEETS

Makes about 3 pints.

INGREDIENTS
6 fresh beets of medium, uniform size  (better for slicing and fitting into jars)
1 Cup white vinegar
2 Cups water
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt  (not kosher salt)
small cinnamon sticks  (one 3-inch stick per jar)
whole peppercorns      (about 8 per jar)  (totally optional)
brown mustard seeds  (a pinch per jar)  (totally optional)

DIRECTIONS
Do not preheat oven.  Trim greens off beets, leaving about one inch of stems.  Wash beets very well, and wrap in tin foil.  Place foil packet in a pan and place in cold oven.  Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 90 minutes.  Let beets cool a bit, and then peel, and slice however you like.  Consider thick batons, or circular slices or half circles.  If you want to make a stacked salad, whole circles are best.

In a small stock pot, heat vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a simmer, and stir to dissolve any visible salt or sugar.  Remove pot from heat and let liquid brine cool a bit, maybe 10 to 15 minutes at most.  Into each clean jar place one small cinnamon stick, and, if using, any peppercorns or mustard seeds.  Pack sliced beets into each jar.  Pour brine slowly into packed jars and let cool on counter for about 30 minutes.  Store in fridge.  Use diced into salads, drained and sliced in sandwiches, etc.

Notes.  Make sure jars and everything are very clean.  I prefer plastic jar lids because they’re non-reactive to the vinegar, and I like them to be BPA-free, but any lid is fine!   I keep my beets about a month in the fridge.  A good tip is that Vegenaise lids will often fit on small-mouth canning jars.  Using medium-size beets of uniform shape will make it easier to get them into jars, and you’ll have more whole, round slices.

You can see my post Growing Beets.  Other recipes on this site that use beets include Roasted Beet Salad and Salad in A Jar.
IMG_2487  Scrubbed beets ready to roast.
IMG_2509   The jar on the right is a recycled Vegenaise jar.

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Here’s one of the best Dill Pickles I’ve ever eaten.  I used organic, pristinely-fresh, full-size cucumbers, and store-bought dill seed, to make this a year-round quick pickle.  By partially peeling and then slicing the cucumbers into spears, we now have a pickle that you can begin eating the next day.  The result is a crunchy, fresh, semi-raw-tasting pickle that’s addictive.  The original recipe appeared in the Dayton Daily News on August 14, 2006, but I cannot find the link and adapted my version from an old photocopy.   It’s one of those popular refrigerator-pickle recipes that’s probably not approved by the FDA.  However, my friend Gail has been making the original recipe for three years and nobody’s gotten sick yet, despite the fact that she refrigerates them for three to six months at a time.  When you consider, for example, the crocks of sauerkraut made around the world and stored in grubby basements, I think we’ll live.  You can find many recipes for refrigerator pickles online, on sites like cooks.com and people are letting them sit in the fridge for months on end and even adding fresh veg into the jars of original brine.  Pickling is the oldest form of food preservation, but there’s a real rebirth of fermented foods going on here in the United States, as evidenced by the plethora of books published on the subject recently (just go on amazon.com and type in “fermented foods“).  The original recipe is called “Cold Pack Dill Pickles” which is a bit of a misnomer, because supposedly, Cold Pack means using a water-bath canner instead of a pressure canner, but this simple recipe uses neither.  I’ve also reduced the salt a bit, added some mustard seeds and brought the yield down from 16 pints, to two quarts, which saves a lot of time and is fine for our home consumption.  Like my Pickled Red Onions, I’ll just make another quick batch when we’re out.  Thank you, Gail, for the original recipe, and all the fabulous garden produce you folks shared with us last summer.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 2 quarts.

INGREDIENTS
3 large, full-size, firm, fresh, organic cucumbers
(or four medium cukes)
3.5 Cups filtered water
1 Cup distilled white vinegar
3 Tablespoons fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Dill seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

DIRECTIONS
To make brine:
In a large saucepan or small stock pot, add water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Heat until good and hot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
——–
Have 2 clean quart jars at the ready (or 4 pint jars).
Wash cucumbers carefully and partially peel them, leaving some green strips along the sides.  If the cucumbers are from a safe, organic garden (un-waxed cucumbers), peel them only lightly for visual appeal.
Cut the ends off each cucumber.
Cut each cucumber in half the short way, and then quarter each half into long spears.
Slice away at least half of the seeds from the length of each cucumber spear.
Rinse peeled garlic halves in hot water to make sure they’re clean, and divide the garlic between the two jars.
Add 1 teaspoon of Dill seeds to each jar.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds to each jar.
Place prepared cucumber spears vertically into jars, packing them in tightly.
Fill jars with the hot brine and then tighten the lids by hand.
Wipe jars dry and place them immediately into the fridge.
Supposedly, these keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 months.

Notes:  I always run my canning jars through the dishwasher with the other dishes to make sure they’re sterilized.  Make sure cutting board and knives are impeccably clean, etc.  The original recipe calls for chopping the garlic and adding 2 fresh dill sprigs to each jar.  It did not call for heating the brine, or peeling the cukes, and it recommended letting the completed pickles/jars sit out at room temperature for 24 hours, but I was too scared to do that, especially with the garlic in there.

Pickled Red Onions

These Pickled Red Onions are something I improvised years ago and we always have a jar in the fridge and we use them on everything.  They add oomph to just about anything calling for onions, you’ll see.

Pickled Red Onions

INGREDIENTS
1 red onion, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds (and some 1/4 inch too)
½ tsp fine sea salt
¾ C red wine vinegar
1 T agave syrup or 1T sugar
¼ tsp ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Separate the onion rings and put into jar.
Add all other ingredients and pour over the onions.
Toss and marinate for one hour in refrigerator.
These will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Use in sandwiches, on appetizers, in salads, on vegan hot dogs, and anything else you can think of.  I love these in various recipes on this site, including the Butter Bean CanapesFrench Red Potato Salad, Welsh Rarebit, vegan hot dogs, vegan grilled cheese, in the Excellent Bean Dip on this site, as a topping for chili, etc., etc.  Also, I mince these to use in place of shallots, with great results.

Note: I use a recycled jar with a plastic lid for these. Due to vinegar (high acid) content, I want a non-reactive lid, in case I choose to shake the jar once in a while. A re-purposed Vegenaise jar works perfectly.

Preserved Lemons

     Preserved Lemons have been used in the Middle East  and North Africa since forever. Think of Moroccan tagines, the warmth of a relentless sun and olive groves.  I use this recipe from epicurious.com and I keep them in my fridge for about a year.  I did not soak the lemons to soften the peel, figuring they’ll soften in the jar anyway.  I did sterilize the jar by dipping it into boiling water, and I did dip the lemons for a minute or less in the same water.  I even put a little boiling water in a ramekin and dipped the whole spices in that.  I use two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, and sometimes one bay leaf.  I prefer not to use cloves or cardamom because I don’t want any medicinal flavor with the bright lemon.  The spices call to mind the souks of the middle east and I’ve always liked cinnamon in savory dishes anyway.  I don’t know if the lemons I used were Meyers, but they were organic, which was most important to me, since we’re going to consume the skins.  Making the lemons is easy.  Now to decide upon a myriad of dishes to make with them. I see Israeli couscous with roasted butternut squash and preserved lemons in my future, and lemon risotto.  And in the Spring, a compound lemon butter with Earth Balance for the new potatoes and asparagus and artichokes.  Lemon vinaigrettes and lemon tea cookies, etc.  It’s important to scrape the flesh from the underside of the already-preserved lemon and rinse the bit of peel you are using under cold running water, before chopping and mincing very finely for your dish.  And, a little goes a long way.  It will add some salt to your dish (despite rinsing) so adjust your recipe’s salt accordingly.
  I like these tongs, and wrap some rubber bands around the ends, which helps grip the jar.