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Easy White Bean Tuna Salad

We blog about this recipe here.

Easy White Bean Tuna Salad

  • 7 oz of good quality tuna in olive oil, drained – with the oil saved
  • 2 c cooked small white beans or 1 can, drained and rinsed; cannellini beans work well here
  •  1/2 red onion, thinly sliced crosswise or finely chopped
  • 2 T capers
  • 6 T oil from the tuna (add olive oil, if you don’t have that much left from the tuna jar or can)
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • arugula or spinach
  • cherry tomatoes (if they’re in season), halved and lightly salted
  • torn basil (optional) for garnishing
Put the tuna into a bowl and break it up slightly with a fork.  Fold in the beans. onion and capers.
Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and gently mix that into the tuna mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.Serve the tuna on top of the arugula  – with the tomatoes and basil sprinkled on top of the tuna.Refrigerate any leftovers, keeping the tuna mixture separate from the tomatoes and arugula.  Bring it to room temperature before serving.  It will keep nicely for several days.
Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Quick White Bean Soup

We blog about this recipe here.

Quick White Bean Soup

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 oz pancetta or bacon or ham or Spanish chorizo, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 c cooked small white beans (canned, rinsed beans are fine; beans cooked in a slow cooker are delicioso; Rancho Gordo beans are to die for)
  • 3 – 4 c chicken broth (or vegetable broth), depending upon how soupy you want it)
  • 3 c chopped Swiss chard – or spinach or arugula or kale
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crusty bread to accompany it

In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the pancetta, onion, carrot, and garlic and fry until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the beans and broth and chard, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the chard is tender, just a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a crusty bread.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

Lamb and White Bean Chili

We blog about this recipe here.

Lamb and White Bean Chili

adapted from a NYTimes/Melissa Clark recipe

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced (my poblano was huge – about 7″ long and hot, which is not typical, so I only used one); green bell peppers work here too
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced (optional – and taste it before adding the whole thing)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T chili powder (note: you don’t want ground chiles here; you want a mix with cumin – such as Spice Islands Chili Powder or Simply Organic Chili Powder, both recommended)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano (I like to use Mexican oregano, but regular works too)
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped – about 1 c
  • 1 12 oz bottle of beer (such as Fat Tire!) plus 2 1/2c water – or 4 c water, if you don’t want to use beer
  • 2 15 oz cans navy beans or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • lime wedges (optional)

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb and 1/2 tsp salt and saute until the lamb is slightly browned.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl and drain all but about 1T of fat from the pan.

Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste and saute another few minutes.

Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the cilantro, beer and/or water, and beans.  Add salt to taste.  Simmer – uncovered – over medium low heat for about 45 minutes, adding more water, if the chili gets too thick.  Serve, adding lime wedges, if desired.

Chili will freeze well and also keep well for several days in the fridge.  Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann]


One-dish Pasta and Beans

We blog about this recipe here.

One-dish Pasta and Beans

Don’t let the somewhat long list of (vegetarian) ingredients scare you off.  Many of them are optional.  The recipe comes together rather quickly.

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (or whole ones that you crush with your hands); do NOT drain
  • 1 3/4 c vegetable broth (or make it half white wine and half vegetable broth)
  • 1 can of white beans – such as cannellini, drained and rinsed – or 1 1/2 c home-cooked white beans
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 3 oz dried lasagna noodles broken into about 1″ pieces; ditalini or macaroni (NOT broken) can be used instead of the broken lasagna
  • 2 c chopped chard or escarole or spinach
  • grated parmesan for topping (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, beans and seasonings, including salt, bring to a boil and add the lasagna pieces.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lasagna is cooked – about 15 minutes.  Add a little more broth at this point if you want soup-y rather than stew-y.  Stir in the chard and cook over medium heat until the chard is wilted, about 1 minute.

Taste again and add salt, if necessary.

Serve in small bowls, topped with the parmesan.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.


Beans and Donuts: A Survival Story– Part I


It is well known that certain foods can evoke strong emotional memories – sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good.  All of this talk in our blog about salads and their ingredients got me to thinking about “beans” (not the kind you are thinking of) and that lead me to think about glazed donuts.  Admittedly, lots of things lead me to think about glazed donuts.  If I ever have to choose a hypothetical “last” meal I would not hesitate to pick glazed donuts, four of them to be exact.

Just the thought of glazed donuts takes me back to one of the most intense culinary moments of my life, although I’m not really sure if it was good or not-so-good.  The moment took place while in army Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Belvoir in a darkened barracks at 2300 hours (11 pm to you civilians). Each of about 60 of us candidates were in our bunks and, by military regulations, “asleep”.  But far from asleep, we were each gulping down four glazed donuts (“pogey bait” in military parlance).   To understand why these donuts made such a lasting impression on me you need to know something about both official and unofficial ways to dine in OCS — at least back in the 1960’s.

OCS Colleagues

“Beans” from OCS Class 505, Golf Company, Ft. Belvoir, VA.  – 1968 (Candidate Raggedy snapped the picture so is not shown)

The official OCS dining routine was well established and clear cut. Befitting of future officers, our meals were served “family style;” for us there was no filing along the serving line to have army grub unceremoniously splotched on outstretched trays!  We ate on real plates at tables that each seated 9 of us underclassmen (aka “bean heads,” or just “beans”) and two upperclassmen (aka “white tabs”).  The catch, and a big catch at that,  was that for the 11 weeks that we were underclass “beans,”  tactical meals were mandatory.  Tactical meals required, among other things:  (1) sitting in an upright position with eyes locked straight ahead at all times, (2) cutting all food into pieces no wider than a fork, and (3)  after putting food in mouths, returning the knife and fork to the “crossed rifles” position at the top of the plate before starting to chew.  There were other rules, but you get the drift.   Any premature food chewing, “gross bites,” or errant “eyeballing” (I always hated that term) would get an immediate “SIT UP!” from one of the ever vigilant upperclassmen at the table.   Immediately all bean heads at the table had to cease eating and sit at attention.   To begin eating again, the bean sitting at the end of the table had to request permission to eat on behalf of his fellow table mates.  To do this he had to raise his hand in a proper military fashion (i.e., elbow on the table with the forearm extended at a 45 degree angle, fingers aligned along the thumb)  and wait to be acknowledged by one of the upperclassmen.   The exchange nearly always went something like this (keep in mind that throughout this the upperclassmen were relaxed and continued to eat):

Upper Classman (while forking a piece of pork chop into his mouth) — “Candidate Raggedy, what do you want?”

Me — “Sir! Candidate Raggedy! Request permission for the men to eat, sir!”

(Note:  we had to begin each comment with “sir” followed be our name and end with a resounding “sir!” )

Upper Classman  (casually helping himself to a second portion of mashed potatoes) — “So Candidate Raggedy, do you know why I ordered the table to sit up?”

Me — “Sir! Candidate Raggedy! Because Candidate Bradly chewed his food too soon, sir!”

Upper Classman — “Candidate Raggedy, you could only know that by eyeballing.  I want you all to continue to sit up and think about how to improve your tactical eating skills. How do you expect to be officers when you can’t even eat properly?  Permission to eat denied!… and, would you please pass the peas?”

This type of harassment would grind on and on until the commanding officer in the mess hall would yell “ON YOUR FEET!” Everyone in the mess hall had to stand abruptly and file out, leaving behind full plates of “family style” meals.  It was after a couple of weeks of this constant dining table harassment that the boxes of donuts materialized in our darkened barracks at 2300 hours one night, enough donuts that we each got four —  four delicious, soul-satisfying donuts.  What those donuts represented and how they materialized is the next part of the story.  So, stay tuned for a future blog where I will give you the skinny on the unofficial or dark side of dining in OCS:  Pogey Bait and Pogey Bait smuggling.


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