Butter beans and pomegranate form an unlikely friendship

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds and scallions

While I have been eating in accordance to the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse for the last 2 weeks, I admit I did not follow their day-by-day menu plans. Instead I did a lot of mixing and matching depending upon what was on hand at any given time. This is sad only because it means it took me an extra week to discover the unexpectedly delicious coupling of butter beans and pomegranate seeds.

In fact, to be honest, I saw a picture of the salad (made with white cannellini beans) and immediately thought, “Oh hell no. That’s one to skip.” Even though I love a good bean salad, for some reason my brain could just not accept the combination of beans and fruit.

But then I saw reviews for the recipe — both online and on Instagram — and was surprised. People seemed to love it. And almost everyone praised the pomegranates for making the salad a success. After all, take them away and the salad is very, very basic — lemon, parsley, olive oil and green onions. Good, no doubt, but nothing to write home about.

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It’s January, cue the new year’s resolution clichés!

Butter bean salad with red pepper relish and roasted veggies

Butter bean salad with red pepper relish and roasted veggies

Eating healthy is the most common new year’s resolution in the country*. It’s probably also the first one to fall by the wayside (I blame you leftover Christmas cookies!). That doesn’t prevent me from making a little extra effort to watch my eating habits after the holidays though. All of that gluttony (pork belly, cookies, and marshmallows, oh my!) has a way of making me look forward to salads and vegetables.

Though I indulge in my fair share of beer and foie gras, I actually tend to eat fairly healthy year-round — my meals include a lot of farro, raw veggies and chicken. But the thought of doing something like the Whole 30 is just not really my speed — too much pressure.

However, a few weeks ago I read about the Food Lover’s Cleanse, a 14-day eating plan that Bon Appetit publishes every January. And since you all know how much I love BA, it seemed like the perfect thing for me to try, especially since I only have to stick to it for two weeks!

The basics are no refined sugars or flours, very little dairy (wah!), plenty of lean proteins, veggies and whole grains. Honestly the dairy is the hardest part for me — I love yogurt, cheese and milk. But considering how much cheese I packed away in the month of December, two weeks without it is probably not a bad thing.

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Butter Bean Salad: A tale of tenacity and pickled peppers

Butter Bean Salad w. Pickled Peppers

Butter Bean Salad w. Pickled Peppers

Last Saturday I was clueless as to what to make for dinner. My husband was at work and had taken the car, so I could only use what I had in my kitchen. Normally that isn’t an issue but since we returned from vacation a few weeks ago, we haven’t done a big grocery excursion. The fridge was pretty sparse a barren wasteland. I had brought home some chicken breasts the day before and that was as far as I had gotten in menu planning.

As dinner time approached, I went on the hunt for a side dish, any side dish, but I kept striking out. No potatoes, no rice, and the only noodles I could find were for lasagna.

Then I remembered the butter beans that I had bought after making this salad a few months ago. I loved the dish so much I immediately added a few cans of the mild and creamy beans to my pantry in case I wanted to make it again. Since I didn’t have any of the ingredients for the original salad (of course), I knew I’d have to utilize what I did have.

A thorough fridge sweep and here’s what I came up with: garlic, celery, 1/8 of an onion (seriously?), green onions (yay!), pickled peppers (double yay!), a tiny wedge of Manchego cheese, a bit of Bibb lettuce and a lemon. Hm, I thought, this might actually work…

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Butter Beans with Cauliflower, Farro and Lemon

Butter Bean, Cauliflower and Farro Salad

Butter Bean, Cauliflower and Farro Salad

I am having a little bit of a love affair with Bon Appetit as of late. I usually rotate between quite a few culinary magazines — everything from Food & Wine to Living to Lucky Peach. But I’ve been in a rut recently and it’s seems like every issue of Bon Appetit is chock full of recipes I want to try out.

The most recent issue was no exception. As soon as I saw the picture for their Warm Cauliflower with Herbed Barley Salad, I knew it was destined to be on my plate very soon. The salad consists of three main components, things I generally would not think to mix all together: cauliflower, butter beans and barley. But it sounded like something I would love, so I made it as a side dish for some seared pork chops early last week.

I lucked out of the first step (cooking the barley) because I happened to have some cooked farro on hand already. This sped up the cooking time considerably so if you already have a cooked grain left over, use it here. I’m sure brown rice, quinoa or wheatberries would all be equally at home.

The next step involves cooking the cauliflower, which I actually found fairly interesting. I adore cauliflower and most often I just eat it raw, though I love it roasted, and occasionally I’ll have it steamed. This preparation was a rather ingenious combination of searing and steaming, which gave the cauliflower the flavor of having been roasted with much less oil (win win!).

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Was it Worth it? Pinto Bean and (not) Turkey Chili

  • The Source: Food & Wine February 2012
  • The Menu: Turkey-and-Pinto Bean Chili *only adaptation was using lean ground beef instead of turkey. This is actually the opposite of my MO. I am constantly substituting turkey for other ground meats, but strangely this time I had fresh ground beef on hand.
  • The Background: It was 75 degrees outside — which seems crazy considering it’s October in Portland. But regardless, there were enough leaves on the ground and candy corn in the stores to make it seem like Chili Season!
  • How It Looked Naked: 

Pretty as a Picture

  • How It Looked Dressed:

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