Friday, September 14

Harvest Four Bean Salad

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...” 
Susan Polis Schutz

Whenever I return home I'm captivated by the gardens of my past.  This is where I spent my summers.  Barefoot and tan.  It's where the passion for all things green, fresh, earthy, and organic was etched into the fiber of my soul.  It's where I wove wildflowers into my hair and journeyed deep into the innermost realm of my young imagination . . .

It was a magical world, where we ate dainty flower petals on china saucers for lunch and had sweet nectar in our tea.  Where fairies lived under the deep green canopy of squash leaves, and goblins hid in the cavernous hole at the base of the western plum tree, heavy with fruit in late August.  Where we chased each other through the verdant, leafy tunnels below ancient, gnarled grape vines.  Where ripe apples fell like rain from crooked, old trees.

As summer comes to an end I wanted to pay one more visit to the abundant gardens of my childhood, and I thought you'd like to come along.  Before the onions are harvested and set in the sun to dry.  Before the last of the carrots and beets are pulled, and the flowers wither and fade one cool fall night.  Before the entire bed is covered over with a thick layer of hay and leaves to rest the winter through.  Goodbye summer - à la prochaine.

I hope you've enjoyed nature's bounty as much as I have this summer.  It is short lived.  This year we've harvested a bumper crop of green beans, so I will share with you one of my favourite bean salads.  This is my adaptation of a recipe I found deep in my grandmother's recipe box after she passed away years ago.  The card was tattered and stained - a sign it was much loved.  And my breath catches in my throat whenever I see her familiar, antique cursive scrawled across the card.  This bean salad was one her step-mother frequently prepared, and I've written my version on the back of the old card.  Don't you just love those recipes?  Family treasures, passed from generation to generation.  I use fresh green and wax beans whenever possible, but canned work just as well in a pinch.  I almost always use canned kidney beans and garbanzo beans.  Garnish it with whatever edible flowers you have available.

Harvest Four Bean Salad

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/8 cup very good extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 cups cut green beans, cooked until very soft (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
2 cups cut wax beans, cooked until very soft (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp capers, drained
2-3 green onions, sliced
torn, fresh basil to taste
edible flowers (nasturtium, chive, flowering basil, pansies, etc) for garnish (optional)

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper in the bottom of a large bowl.  Add the beans, vegetables, and capers and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Garnish with torn fresh basil and edible flowers if you choose.  Serve well chilled.

Shared with: Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mangia Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, Freedom Fridays


  1. I haven't had a good mixed bean salad in ages--this sounds like a lovely combination. And a great way to use some of my excess basil this time of year! :)

    1. Yes! I have loads and loads of basil this year, too!

  2. What a delicious bean salad! Bean salads always make me think fondly of my grandmother. I am including this in my Hearth and soul Highlights tomorrow.