Once upon a time, beans had kind of a bad reputation. They were considered bland, mushy, tasteless, and pardon my bluntness – gas producing, budget food. Not the semi-tasty Ramen noodle kind of budget food that most of us lived on in college, and actually loved when we came rolling home from the bars, but the kind of budget food that you know you should eat to be healthy, but you just can’t force yourself to eat it… Wow – times have changed, haven’t they?
I’m going to guess, if you’re reading a food and nutrition blog with (mostly) healthy recipes, beans are probably a regular or at least semi-regular part of your diet. Any vegetarian knows they’re a good source of healthy carbs and fiber, with some protein and lots of vitamins thrown in as well. They’re also great for your cholesterol – the soluble fiber in beans can lower your LDL or bad cholesterol.
I really love them because they’re a versatile food. You can dress them up by tossing them in a food processor with some roasted garlic and olive oil and serve them on a fancy Mediterranean antipasto platter. You can mash them or keep them whole and use them in anything Mexican, like Frijoles Rancheros. And of course, you can add them to a salad to make an interesting mix of flavors and textures.
We’re moving in a few weeks, and I’m on a mission to clean out the fridge and pantry, or “live off the land” as I tell my family. I didn’t realize how well stocked I was on grains and beans – so that was the inspiration for today’s recipe.
Chewy wheat berries + creamy cannelloni beans from the pantry pair nicely with fresh greens. I also got rid of a lemon, a bit of mustard, and some olive oil… Making progress!
Beans, Greens and Grains With Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 large basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups baby greens
- 1 small bunch asparagus tough ends snapped off
- 1/2 English seedless cucumber, sliced into quarters lengthwise, and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 can white cannelloni beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked wheat berries (about 1/2 cup uncooked) prepared according to package directions
- For the Dressing, combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor, and process until basil is broken down and dressing is combined. Add salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Cut asparagus into 1 1/2-inch pieces and place into a microwave safe glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 1 minute until asparagus is just tender. Drain and let cool. Rinse under cold water to chill faster, if desired.
- Combine asparagus and remaining salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Pour dressing over all and serve immediately.
How often do you eat beans? What’s your favorite way to use them?