It's not fassoulia: white bean and tomato business. ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

27 August 2008

It's not fassoulia: white bean and tomato business.

I was thinking about fassoulia. Lately, when I haven't had supplies to make myself lunch, I've been going over to the Whole Foods up the street by my office and having salad bar instead. The salad bar can go a couple ways. One: lots of greens with shredded carrots and beets, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, and some balsamic dressing. Two: lots of greens with roasted red pepper, marinated mushrooms, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, fassoulia, chickpeas, feta, croutons, and more balsamic. I really need to make fassoulia at home.

Fassoulia is a white bean salad essentially consisting of huge silver-dollar white cannellini beans in a strong vinaigrette. I haven't ever seen dried beans that big in a store, although apparently Rancho Gordo sells some. I did have normal-sized white beans, so I went ahead and boiled them in prep for at least an approximation of fassoulia. Then I realized we didn't have any olive oil. I couldn't make vinaigrette. I could probably use vinegar as a flavoring agent, though.

I decided to improvise.

White bean and tomato business

cooked white beans
red onion
good tomatoes
sage, thyme, marjoram, paprika
olive oil
white wine vinegar
salt, pepper
toasted pita/etc

Chop up half a red onion and soften it in a slug of oil. I had to use safflower oil. However! Olive oil tastes far better in this kind of Mediterranean-y food. If only I'd also had a lemon and a handful of fresh parsley.

While the onion is softening, core and chop a couple good tomatoes. I used the end of my farmer's market haul. You can use whatever edible tomato you have on hand. Canned whole tomatoes should also work. Dump them into the pan and reduce them along with the onion.

At this point you can start seasoning. Add big pinches of dried sage, marjoram, and thyme, plus a good couple shakes of paprika. If you want to season with fresh herbs, chop them up and add them at the end of cooking instead.

When tomatoes and onions have reduced into a sweet mass, add some white beans. I probably used about two cups. Mix the beans with the vegetables, add a big splash of vinegar, and cook until hot through. You can also add some water if things get too dry.

When the whole pan is hot, you are ready. Salt and pepper, then serve in bowls.

This business clearly needed a whack of green crunchy vegetables, so I peeled and cut up half a huge japanese cucumber which had come from a coworker's garden. The cucumber was really sweet and juicy, which worked well with the sweet tomatoes and red onion. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, though. I'm actually having a hard time trying to think of other vegetables; red pepper might be good. If nothing else, you can add lots of fresh parsley. This wants so much parsley. In an ideal world, I would have squeezed a bunch of fresh lemon juice over the bowl, then covered it with parsley. You could also pour on some good vinaigrette instead of the lemon juice.

Eat with some toasty device. I made pita chips by sticking some pita in the toaster oven. You could also use a number of other breadlike devices.

It was not fassoulia, but it was delicious anyway.


Kevin said...

This sounds good! I have been enjoying beans in salads lately.

eileen said...

thanks, kevin! I heart beans.