Super Quick Italian Bean Salad

Italian Bean Salad

This is my weeknightified version of a Foster’s Market recipe. It’s super simple and really hits the spot when I want a tasty deli-style salad with next to no work. You could dress it up as much as you like with fresh veggie add-ins. The original recipe is lovely, though not super fast (you cook the beans yourself and make their delicious dressing from scratch, among other things). Again, this is more a list of ideas than a real recipe, but it’s not hard to eye the proportions.


Rinsed and drained canned white beans (I like navy beans)

Italian dressing—-I like the Penzey’s mix


Sundried tomatoes

Chopped fresh parsley

Mix beans with enough dressing to coat and enough capers and tomatoes to give it a little color. Let marinate a few hours if you have time. Add parsley. Enjoy!

Got some more feedback on my nonfiction manuscript this week. Things are finally moving forward. So excited.

And in other news this week, I’ve been talking to 4th and 5th graders about writing an early reader (i.e. Slowpoke). Fun times! Love getting their questions.

For more food-related posts, click here. Have a great rest of your week.


White Bean Chili

This would be my less-meatarian version of Foster’s Market’s Chicken Chili with Navy Beans. Yeah, I just left out the chicken and used more beans. Rocket science.

I know you thought I was Johnny One Note with Mr. Mark Bittman. I know, I talk about him ALL. THE. TIME. But I do have other cookbook crushes.

Foster’s Market recipes are not what I’d call weeknight friendly (too many ingredients) but nearly every single one has been a must-repeat. Especially the soups, salads, and cakes. I believe there are a few Foster’s Market books out now, but this is from the first, The Foster’s Market Cookbook.

A few notes on this recipe:

#1 It has a nice kick, but the kids thought it was too spicy, so they wouldn’t touch it past the first bite. I might crank down the spice next time. If I feel like sharing. 

#2:  As with the other Foster’s Market bean soups, I’ve found that, while excellent, the spices and flavorings can get a little overwhelming. I think I’d lessen amounts on all the spices, the salt, and especially the Worcestershire.

#3. My beans took way, way longer to cook than the recipe calls for.

#4. Obviously, if you want to be strict vegetarian/ vegan, you would use veggie broth for this soup instead of the chicken broth it calls for and sub veggie Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.

I may have to less-meatify some more Foster’s Market recipes, since they are all so good. What’s the vegetarian answer to chicken salad, ’cause it’s got some awesome versions?

Tuscan White Beans with Pasta and Fried Bread Crumbs

The weather’s getting cooler—time for comfort food!  This is a new recipe we love.

It’s Mark Bittman’s Tuscan White Beans, from his cookbook How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I serve them over pasta and add fried bread crumbs.

These are just bread crumbs (I make them from stale bread and keep them in the freezer) that I fry up in olive oil with garlic. Somehow with this treatment they take on an almost bacony-like flavor. So good.

On top, add the garlic olive oil from the Bittman recipe and a good grating of parm. It’s like grown up mac and cheese—but leave out the parm and it’s vegan.

The recipe makes a lot, so if it’s too much for one evening, you can freeze some to save for later. Just make sure that you thaw gently (at room temp or at a very low temp) or you’ll end up with mush.

In other news, really enjoying my blogging class (Blogging Your Way with Holly Becker of decor8). It’s making me think about ways I may want to re-tool my blog, improve it, and tighten its focus. What would you like to see more of? What are your favorite posts? I’m thinking of spinning the food section off into another location. Not sure.

Currently reading Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World, which follows the history of the New Amsterdam colony before it became New York. It’s slow-going, with a large cast of van der _____’s to keep up with, but the subject matter is really interesting. There’s an enormous trove of Dutch archives on the subject which until recently had been unexamined. The premise of the book is that while the study of American history has always focused on the English roots of our country, that the Dutch influence, via New York, is actually quite significant.

Also recently read Jean Craighead George’s The Buffalo Are Back with the kids. It so made me want to go see the buffalo. It’s a kind of historical picture book with a fair amount of text, a format I’m not usually as into these days, but it totally works, and the illustrations are great. May need to make a prairie trip when we return stateside. It sounds so exotic in the book.

Off to eat some leftover pumpkin soup (made last night). I’m not much into sweet pumpkin things but the savory soup, especially with a little chipotle swirled in, really hits the spot.

Beer-Glazed Black Beans

More beans! These are so super delicious. As Mark Bittman says, it’s hard to imagine how much flavor the beer gives the beans. I used a Paulaner Hefeweizen. Yum yum. The picture doesn’t really do them justice.

Here’s the recipe, again from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. We ate them on soft corn tortillas.

For more bean inspirations, check out the posts below. The first two are Mark Bittman recipes, the third is my own.

Jamaican Rice and Beans 

Spicy Baked Chickpeas

Simple Bean Salad

Spicy Baked Chickpeas with Cheese

You’re going to think all we eat are beans around here. Contrary to squeaks from the peanut gallery, it isn’t true. But beans are what I’m into exploring these days.

This was another recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Really loving that book. The actual title of the recipe is “Baked Chickpeas with Fresh Cheese,” but I didn’t think that did it justice.

Here’s before baking:

You make it with a spicy Indian-style tomato sauce and coconut milk (or cream) and crumbled cheese. I subbed feta for the Indian cheese since I knew it would be a wild goose chase to find it. Sounds a little strange but it was so so good.

Here it is after baking:

We ate it with rice. There were no leftovers. However, while I was cooking it, I got scared I wasn’t going to like it. The smells and flavors just didn’t seem to work together until the last minute, when everything clicked into place, and boy I’m getting hungry just thinking about it right now.

Anyone know the etiquette for posting recipes from cookbooks? I did ask permission for the last one I posted, but I don’t feel right posting a bunch. Here’s a version of this recipe here.  And oddly you can find the page on google books here, but isn’t that kind of weird? Shouldn’t you have to buy it as an e-book? It would make a great e-book since it’s sooooo huge, but the last time I checked it wasn’t available that way.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to see the one about Jamaican-Style Baked Rice and Kidney Beans from the same cookbook.

Baked Rice and Red Kidney Beans, Jamaican Style

In my ongoing quest to eat more vegetables, I’ve been randomly trying a few things from Mark Bittman’s encyclopedic How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It has all kinds of things I’d never thought to try, or known existed. The number of bean dishes alone could be a book all to itself.

This recipe turned out to be delicious. Comfort food without animal fats—coconut milk instead. It’s not labor intensive, and it has this wonderful crusty finish.

Here’s my version of the recipe, using canned beans and brown rice. Please note, if you’re using the original recipe with dried kidney beans, you should pre-cook them alone and then add in to the recipe, as dried kidney beans have strong toxins that need to be rinsed away after cooking. Look on the FDA website for more info.

2 TB extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 fresh hot chili, cored, seeded and chopped *

1 TB minced garlic

3/4 cup canned kidney beans

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (I used brown)

1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium. A minute later, add onion, pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add beans and cook together for a few minutes.

2) Use a potato masher or back of a spoon to smoosh the beans in the pot (not too smooshy).

3) Stir in the rice, coconut milk, and a good amount of salt and pepper (watch the salt since you’re using canned beans since they will already be salted). If you don’t want a crust to develop, cover the pot. Bake in the oven until the rice is tender, around 60+ minutes with brown rice (less for white rice), adding water as needed. I probably added at least a cup, maybe more, of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days (reheat and stir in a little water and olive oil just before serving).

*I subbed bell pepper since I was hoping the kids would want to try this one. They didn’t, so I wished I had used the hot pepper instead, which I think would make it even better. I’m also thinking I’d add a little squeeze of lime on top next time.

Here’s what it looked like going into the oven:

Have a great weekend!

Simple Bean Salad

I’ve been busy busy with guests and travels. So much I’d like to share, but for now, a recipe.

I had something kind of like this at a Greek restaurant here and was craving more. I couldn’t find a recipe anywhere, and it was really so simple, so I just put together a few things and was really happy with the results. It’s really just beans marinated in a vinaigrette, plus some garnishes.

The amounts in the vinaigrette are approximate—-I rarely measure when making salad dressings. If you want to make sure it’s just right, find a vinaigrette recipe you like and use it.

Here you go:

 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (you could use another kind of bean instead)

a half-cup to 3/4 cup or so of vinaigrette dressing, enough to give the beans a good bath

My vinaigrette consisted of maybe a 1/2 cup or so of olive oil, a few tablespoons red wine vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, and some onion powder

1 small onion, diced

handful of parsley, chopped fine

Mix and let marinate in the fridge, covered. Add salt and pepper to taste (remembering that the beans are usually already salted).