Cath – the official “chef” around here – is an absolute pro at scoping for recipes and then just trying them out. It’s a daily thing, often inspired by her love for kitchen gadgets. And inevitably she puts her own twist on the recipe she finds… sometimes because she just doesn’t like the sound of what’s there, or sometimes it’s because she can’t find one of the official ingredients and she has enough gumption and food knowledge to say, “what the heck - let’s try it like this…”
I totally respect my Mom’s ability to confidently and boldly whip something up. (I do not have this ability.) So it was no surprise when today my Mom sent lunch down to the beach (because it has been SOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL OUT! AND I’M SORRY TO CAP-SHOUT AT YOU ABOUT THIS, BUT AFTER THIS PAST WINTER I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF!). In this typically stellar picnic lunch was this:
An amazingly fresh and lemony and summery salad. It was perfect for beach weather! Michele and I gobbled it up. And then I ran upstairs to the cabin to make sure there was some left so I could take some pictures.
Because there are a few veggies in this salad: spinach, tomatoes, garlic (is that a veggie?), green onions. And then oregano and thyme, right out of the new herb garden. And parmesan cheese. And lemon juice! And feta! Basically all good and yummy things.
Cath originally found it at Better Homes & Gardens, but used different beans and then of course we used a smattering of whatever pasta we had sitting around (there are two different kinds in our salad, which is a giveaway for one of Cath's salad's). :)
Also, a little known fact (or maybe it's known a lot, just not to me) - this recipe called for Great Northern Beans, which I had never heard of. Instead, Cath used Cannellini because that's what we had in the pantry. Google says that these two beans are basically interchangeable; Cannellini are a little softer and smaller, but they both have a nutty flavor that works well in salads. Super!
What I love about this salad - about most pasta salads - is that you can just make it up as you go along. Throw in whatever veggies you have. Add some of this and a little of that. Just keep that lemony flavor, because it is the besssst.
- 5-6 oz baby spinach
- 15 oz can of beans, rinsed and drained - we used Cannellini
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup dried tomatoes, diced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme (or lemon thyme if you've got it!)
- 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 12 oz. pasta of your choice
- Parmesan cheese as a final topping
- Combine ALL of the ingredients (excluding the pasta), cover, and let sit for 2 hours, stirring every once in awhile.
- Shortly before serving, cook the pasta. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta water to add to the salad. Toss it all together.
- Top with shaved parmesan and serve warm or at room temperature... (actually, I had it cold, too, and it was great).