Sometimes cancelled flights and changed plans are a blessing. A year or so ago I was supposed to attend a conference on the east coast. I was taking my father with me for a special weekend in New York and my husband was to meet us there. Mother nature intervened. A newsworthy blizzard arrived, our flights were cancelled, the conference postponed and the three of us were sitting in my kitchen in Los Angeles (where else?) packed suitcases in hand, with the babysitter on her way and paid for. Much to my husband’s surprise I said – “why don’t we get in the car and drive to Vegas?” Any of you who know me will realize spontaneity is not in my vernacular, it’s a wonder I even know how to spell it. Perhaps the moon was in the proper alignment, or some such thing – and in a matter of 15 minutes we had hotel reservations, tickets to Cirque du Soliel’s “O” and a multitude of meals planned.
Our three-day spontaneous Vegas holiday was way beyond fabulous. We ate great food, talked for hours, saw the Hoover Dam, shopped, took in “O,” and lost a teeny-tiny bit of money playing black jack. My kids and I are huge fans of Iron Chef Bobby Flay so we made a point of eating at Mesa Grill. The food was excellent. To start the meal we shared a chopped salad that was a modern take on my grandmother’s Four-Bean Salad (I had no idea Bobby knew my grandmother – but apparently he did). Chef Flay’s version was light, with a hint of lime. I came home and set to work recreating his dish. The fresh flavor of this salad with its hint of citrus makes it a great pairing for something spicy.
Vegan Two Bean Salad
8-10 small servings
- 1 can red beans
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup sugar
- 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup pitted Nicoise or Kalamata olives, drained and chopped
- 1 cup chopped Persian cucumbers
- 4 cups of hearts of Romaine lettuces, washed and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped chives
Drain and rinse the beans. Mix the beans together in a medium bowl. Add the red onion.
Beat together the oil, sugar, vinegar and limejuice. Pour over the bean and onion mixture. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Pour the beans and red onion through a sieve. Set aside the dressing. Just before serving add the tomatoes, cucumbers and olives. Toss with the chopped Romaine lettuce, and chives and serve immediately. If you like a little more dressing on your salad, add some of the reserved dressing to the bowl and toss one more time before serving.