So technically, you might consider this to be a "Three Bean Salad," but doesn't that name have such a bourgeois 70's suburbia connotation. It does for me. A Three Bean Salad is something you might take to a potluck or a church social. A certain type of mom clipped Three Bean Salad recipes out of Better Homes and Gardens, or Women's Day.
I recall Three Bean Salad being served in my house a lot as a youngster, however I tended to avoid ever eating it. It wasn't that I hated vegetables. I rather liked peas, carrots and corn. I'd eat green beans. I even like kidney beans. Chili was a very common meal for our family. But for whatever reason, the combination of beans and green beans slicked with some sort of bottled, vinegary dressing was off putting and I wanted no part of it. Even as my taste changed, the desire to make a three bean salad did not. Unlike other middle class comfort food classics that have been gussied up for the foodie generation, like mac and cheese and meatloaf, poor three bean salad seems stuck in culinary purgatory along with stuffed bell peppers and jell-o molds. But wait. Maybe all is not lost.
I came across this recipe in an issue of Gourmet magazine that my co-worker Jody gave me. For some reason she had a subscription, even though she doesn't really cook, each month when she'd get the newest issue in her mailbox, she'd pass them on to me and I was more than happen to accept them. Gourmet's update was intriguing. The idea of switching out green beans and kidney beans for fresh edamame, black beans and black-eyed peas seems like such a brilliant way to transform this simplistic little side salad into something more sophisticated. Well, you know. As sophisticated as a salad made with canned beans is capable of being.
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame (8 oz)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cups (about 4 stalks) thinly sliced celery
zest and juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cumin, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Pour into a large heatproof bowl.
Add edamame and remaining ingredients to cumin oil and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes for flavors to blend.
Sometimes I dream of opening a little gourmet and prepared foods shop along the lines of Joan's on Third, Clementine or Edna's Edibles and if I did, this salad would be one I'd have big bowlfuls of in the display case. I just love how versatile this salad is. It's perfect to make and just keep in the fridge. It keeps for days and days. It would be great to pack to take to work for lunch or a picnic on a weekend. Maybe the Hollywood Bowl. Annie and I made it to serve with a Cinco de Mayo feast we did last weekend.
The beans and edamame have a starchy girth that is balanced by the lightness of the lime juice and celery. The cumin and black beans make it a natural to pair up with Latin flavors, while the edamame brings in more of an Asiany element. The black eyed peas give it a folksy southern flair. It would work really well with salmon, steak, fried chicken or bar-be-que. I'm thinking ribs. So many options...
Serves 6 to 8