Chosen Bites: Hot summer, cool menus

The perfect bean salad that will fill you up, but won't make you fat.

Bean Salad (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bean Salad
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There is something about the heat of summer and intensity of the flavors we crave. The hotter it gets, the more flavor I want. I yearn for cool and refreshing foods, but somehow strong herbs, garlic, assertive vinaigrette and spices just seem right under the hot sun. As summer progresses, basil is on all of my menus and rosemary works its way in to my dishes. No more polite vinaigrette either. I want a sauce for my salad that adds a certain kick. I just can’t seem to get enough. 
A perfect canvas for the big bold flavors is a chilled summer bean salad. I love the creamy texture of the beans and the nutty flavor. I also appreciate the way the beans marry with the produce and punchy vinaigrettes that I crave. I love cannellini beans for their velvety texture, but any bean will work. As summer progresses and produce changes, feel free to add in your favorite veggies.The salad can be made up to four days ahead of serving and can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The bean salad is not only flavorful, but high in protein and low in fat and can be served as a meal in itself or paired with your favorite grilled meat, chicken or fish.
Serves 6
For the vinaigrette
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon style mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
½  cup sliced radishes
1 cup peas, cooked
1 cup green beans, cut into –inch segments
1 cup chopped or torn basil leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 small fresh hot chilies, minced (I like Fresno chilies for a fruity heat)
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed or 1.5 cups of dry beans soaked, drained and cooked 
1. Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
2. Toss the ingredients for the salad together and generously drizzle with vinaigrette. Store any leftover vinaigrette, covered in the refrigerator.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Katering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.