Cooking Class: Beans with panache

Green, white or black, beans of all kinds are great in salads and casseroles.

Bean and pasta salad  (photo credit: MCT)
Bean and pasta salad
(photo credit: MCT)
Ever since my first taste of haricots panaches in Paris, the French bean dish has been a favorite of mine.
To make it, cooks boil green beans and flageolets, a pale green dried bean, in water, and heat the drained beans with butter or goose fat, parsley and sometimes garlic.
In classic cuisine this bean duo accompanies roast lamb, but the dish is versatile enough to be served in many other ways.
It is good with chicken and beef and as a vegetarian entree as well, since dried beans are protein-rich legumes.
If the beans are enriched with butter or meat juices, they must be served hot because these ingredients congeal when chilled. You can use olive oil as a lighter option, and turn the bean melange into a delightful dish for summer, good cold as a salad or warm as an accompaniment.
Instead of French flageolets, I make the dish with small or medium white beans.
To speed up the preparation, I sometimes substitute frozen beans, such as baby lima beans, shelled edamame (green soy beans) or peeled fava beans. Canned dried beans are fine too. I pair the dried beans with fresh or good quality frozen green or yellow beans. I also use other classic bean dishes as the basis for fresh and dried bean medleys. On my first visit to Istanbul, I became fond of a dish called piyaz, a popular salad of white beans dressed with onions, plenty of parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and often topped with black olives and hardboiled egg wedges. To make it more colorful and add a fresh vegetable, I like to stir in green beans to obtain a sort of “piyaz panache.”
To easily turn one of these bean mixtures into a one-dish meal, add strips or small cubes of flavorful cheeses such as Gruyere, Roquefort, feta or goat cheese, or strips of grilled chicken or roast beef. Marinate the meat with the beans in the dressing for extra flavor. Afterwards, if you want to serve the dish warm, you can microwave it briefly in a covered bowl.
To make an even heartier entree, you can also combine the beans with rice or pasta. In some French bean-growing regions such as the Loire Valley, known for its famous chateaux, cooks pair the bean mixture with potatoes and dress the salad with mustard-flavored walnut oil vinaigrette or with cream-enriched mayonnaise.
To vary the seasonings, add fresh tarragon, thyme or mustard to the dressing for French flavor; fresh dill, green onions, and hot pepper paste for a Middle Eastern accent; or fresh coriander, hot peppers and lime juice to give the bean combo a Mexican taste. Cooked white or red beans tossed with green or yellow beans is an attractive combination. To make it even more appealing, I often add diced tomatoes, thin slices of red onion and sweet peppers in several colors.
Makes 5 to 7 cups cooked beans, about 6 servings
Use this recipe to cook white, red or black beans or chickpeas. There is no need to soak them.
Sort and rinse 450 gr. (21⁄4 to 21⁄2 cups) dried beans. Put them in a large pot and add 7 cups water or enough to generously cover them. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 hours for most beans and about 11⁄2 to 2 hours for chickpeas, adding salt halfway through cooking time and adding hot water occasionally to keep them covered with water. If cooking beans ahead, refrigerate them in their cooking liquid. Reserve cooking liquid for soups and stews.
Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings
Inspired by the classic “salade Parisienne,” a mustard-dressed potato and beef salad devised to use leftover pot au feu or boiled beef, this salad combines beef with beans and pasta spirals instead of potatoes. Roast beef from a delicatessen is an easier and tastier substitute for the traditional boiled beef. Add the cooked green beans and parsley to the salad shortly before serving so the vinegar won’t discolor them.
✔ 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
✔ 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
✔ Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
✔ 1⁄2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. canola oil or other vegetable oil
✔ 3 Tbsp. minced green onions
✔ 3 Tbsp. minced parsley
✔ 2 Tbsp. finely chopped rinsed drained capers
✔ 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
✔ 225 gr. green beans, ends removed, cut diagonally in 5-cm. pieces
✔ 225 gr. pasta twists or spaghetti twists (gemelli)
✔ 225 gr. very thin slices roast beef, cut in 7.5- x 1-cm strips
✔ 11⁄2 to 2 cups cooked white beans (see Cooking Dried Beans, above) or a 400 gr. can, drained and rinsed
✔ 1⁄2 cup parsley
✔ 3 hard-boiled eggs
✔ 2 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes
Make mustard-caper vinaigrette: Whisk mustard in a small bowl with vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil.
Stir in green onion, parsley, capers and garlic. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Cook green beans uncovered in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, rinse with cold water and drain well.
Reheat water from cooking green beans to a boil. Add pasta and boil uncovered over high heat, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until tender but firm to the bite.
Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl, add vinaigrette and toss. Add beef and cooked white beans and toss. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Shortly before serving, add green beans and parsley to salad and toss.
Chop 1 egg, add to salad and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning. Quarter remaining 2 eggs. Garnish salad with quartered eggs and tomatoes.
Makes 6 servings
Hot pepper sauce and olives enhance this multicolored salad, which makes a fine appetizer, side dish or light entree.
The beans are mixed with a savory yellow rice pilaf seasoned with cumin and turmeric. Instead of black beans, you can use white or red beans or frozen lima beans.
Serve this salad warm, cold or at room temperature. If you prefer to serve it as a hot side dish, omit the vinegar or lemon juice.
✔ 170 to 225 gr. green beans, cut in thirds
✔ 3 to 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
✔ 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and slice thin
✔ 1 small or 1⁄2 large red bell pepper, diced small
✔ 2 small zucchini or pale-green-skinned summer squash (kishuim) (optional) ✔ Salt and freshly ground pepper
✔ 11⁄4 cups long-grain white rice
✔ 1 tsp. ground cumin
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. turmeric
✔ 21⁄2 cups hot water
✔ 2 small carrots, diced
✔ 1 to 11⁄2 cups cooked black or red beans (see Cooking Dried Beans, above) or a 400-gr. can, drained and rinsed
✔ 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped dill
✔ 2 tsp. hot pepper paste or hot sauce, or to taste
✔ 1⁄2 cup green olives, pitted and halved
✔ 1 to 2 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar, rice vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
✔ 2 tsp. capers, drained (optional)
Cook green beans uncovered in a medium saucepan of boiling water uncovered over high about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well; rinse if serving salad cold.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saute pan.
Add onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes or until soft but not brown. Remove from pan. Add 1 Tbsp. oil and heat it. Add red pepper and zucchini, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Remove from pan.
Return 1⁄3 of the onions to pan and heat them. Add rice and saute over medium-low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes or until grains turn white. Add cumin, turmeric, 3⁄4 tsp. salt and scant 1⁄2 tsp. pepper. Pour hot water over rice and stir once. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover tightly and simmer for 7 minutes. Scatter diced carrots over rice, without stirring.
Cover and cook for 7 minutes. Scatter remaining sauteed onions over the top. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until rice is tender.
With a fork, fluff rice lightly and transfer to a bowl. Lightly fold in black and green beans, red pepper-zucchini mixture and dill. Fold in hot pepper paste, olives and 1 Tbsp. oil if you like.
If serving cold, let mixture cool completely and fold in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with capers.
Faye Levy is the author of Feast from the Mideast and the award-winning Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.