It’s the season of Lent and, for those of you who don’t know, that means no meat in our house. For a total of 40 days and 40 nights. It wasn’t easy when my husband and son decided to abstain but over the years we’ve kind of gotten into the rhythm of it to the point we now feel perfectly comfortable kidding around about the dish we truly miss. It goes something like, “Oh, my gosh. You know what I really craved today? A burger. A great big, juicy burger with lettuce and tomato and pickles and mustard, ketchup and mayo. With a big pile of crispy fries.” Then the other person replies, “I know. I’d totally kill for a chicken wing. Super hot and covered with sauce. I couldn’t stop thinking about them.” Every year it’s the same song and dance. This salad, however, alleviates some of the pain. I won’t lie and say it’ll take the place of meat but it does fill the hole. It’s wonderful topped with a warm fillet of fish just off the grill. I scoop it onto bruschetta followed by a slow drizzle of olive oil for a tempting and pretty hors d’oeuvre. White beans will never take the place of crispy, spicy sopressata on a pizza, comforting spaghetti and meat balls or a savory, homemade chicken salad sandwich but for right now, they’ll do. They’ll do just fine.
One of the finer points of this salad is that it requires no marination time. Once it’s prepared it can be served. That said, it can also be put together a few hours prior to serving and it’s still fantastic. The recipe is easily halved or doubled with perfect results. The salad travels well to parties and picnics, feeds a crowd and is pretty inexpensive to make. Meyer lemons are much sweeter and not as sour as regular lemons but if Meyers are not available in your area, no worries. Regular lemons are just fine and no one will know the difference. This bean salad can be served as a main dish or as a side.
Meyer Lemon, White Bean and Mint Salad
- 4 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 bunches of flat leaf parsley, rinsed and dried
- 2 bunches fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1 small red onion, chopped and all tough skins discarded
- 1 large Meyer lemon or 2 regular lemons
- 3/4 cup good olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the parsley and mint leaves and place in a large bowl.
- Zest the lemon then juice it, adding both to the bowl with the parsley.
- Add the olive oil to the parsley mixture and stir well until all the ingredients are completely combined.
- Add the beans to the parsley mixture and gently toss so as not to break up the beans but to completely coat the beans with the parsley mint mixture.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until serving.