Go Local- Week Three-Use Your Bounty

This week we are visited by the very talented and highly motivated Brenda of Phydeaux Designs. I really wish I had it in me to dig through the boxes of The Mail Man's memories so I could show you the picture we recently unearthed of these two at a 1980's party together. We're talking big trouble. BIG. I'm pretty sure Ms. Brenda was faultless, but The Mail Man? Dude.
I'm glad I get to be friends with Brenda, too. She is always inspiring and encouraging. I spoke of her last year as well when she posted about strawberries and ice cream. This year she has an equally tantalizing proposition. And if you are a business owner, a knitter, a cat lover, a gardener, a movie fan, a reader of books, or a fan of really, really awesome photos...visit her as she blogs her adventures on Phydeaux. There is something there for you.
This is the year that I'm going to win the war. I've lived in the same area for nearly 20 years (hard to believe!), although I've moved across the driveway. Every year it's the same war, one I conceded years ago. The annual garden war with the moles.
There is absolutely nothing I can plant in the ground that isn't chowed down by those rascally ... rodents. They have 20 years experience in fine dining: tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, herbs, any root vegetables, lettuces and greens, corn, you name it!

So this year I got smart. And so far ... I'm winning the war.

I'm growing this year's garden in containers.


This is brilliant on so many levels, including that it's so much easier on my back, I haven't had slug problems (yet), and I can hear the moles gnashing their freakishly long teeth in despair (hehe).
I started small this year, because (a) I wasn't sure this would work, and (b) our winter/early spring weather lasted really long this year. So I don't have fruit to show for my labor ... yet.

But when I do! I will be enjoying my favorite summertime meal every single day with my own homegrown tomatoes. I'm enjoying it now with my kitchen window grown basil and parsley, and beans and veggies from the farmer's market!

This is the perfect summer meal! I make a big bowl of bean salad every couple of days and then enjoy a big scoop over salad, under a piece of grilled salmon, alongside bbq chicken ... you get the idea!

Best of all, I never make this the same way twice. I started making more than 20 years ago, based on a black bean fuul, a Middle Eastern dish, usually with fava beans mashed up with olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic and lemon juice. And usually for breakfast. In fact "fuul" comes from "ful," Egyptian for fava beans!

I first ran into this recipe via one of my Moosewood cookbooks, with black beans, lemon, garlic, olive oil, parsley, with chopped tomatoes and hardboiled eggs. Now I make it with just about anything that strikes my fancy, but with the same core: extra virgin organic olive oil, lemon juice and zest, chopped up tomatoes with their juice and seeds, italian flat leaf parsley, fresh basil, and lots of fresh cracked black pepper.
This photo is the version I threw together earlier this week, recipe below! This is the perfect recipe for your summer garden: fresh beans and herbs, sunwarmed tomato, fresh picked and squeezed lemon. Yum! And when you dry your beans later this summer, you'll be able to enjoy this year round using your own bounty (try it with sundried tomatoes, too!). I particularly love this using the very last tomatoes of the season, with really condensed flavor.

Brenda's Bean Salad
Beans - black beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, any heirloom bean, etc. The photo above uses shelled edamame, black beans and chickpeas. Use about one cup of cooked beans/peas per person. If you use dried beans/peas, soak overnight and bring to boil in a pot of fresh water with a bit of salt, garlic and you can use ginger to help reduce gassiness. After it boils, reduce to simmer and cook til fork tender. I rinse really well after cooking to further reduce gassiness. If you're using fresh beans, blanch for a minute, then immediately toss with remaining ingredients. You can also use canned or frozen, same concept.

Pour a good amount of extra virgin olive oil (organic if you can!) into a big bowl, zest a lemon into the oil, and then squeeze that lemon in as well (I often use two lemons!). Whisk together with a good sprinkle of sea salt and several grinds of black pepper (fresh cracked only, please!).

Now crush several cloves of garlic (you can use garlic powder, but if you have garlic cloves, go for it!). The amount is completely dependent on your tolerance - I know to back off the garlic if I'm exuding its fragrance from my palms later that evening! Mince fine or chop rustically, add to the dressing, whisk some more!

If you're making a BIG bowl o' beans, be generous with the dressing.

Add the beans and toss well.

Tomatoes - any variety, chopped up as fine or as rustic as you want. I love flavorful heirloom tomatoes with this, but also love to quarter grape tomatoes for it - delicious! Key is to scoop the tomatoes along with seeds and juice into the bowl. Everything adds to the flavor!

Toss well.

Chop up your parsley, as fine or as rustic as you please. Don't be stingy - this is really really good with a LOT of parsley. If I'm making a huge bowl, I'll use the whole bunch. Parsley, besides tasting so great, is full of chlorophyll to "scrub" your blood - so great year round and perfect with your summer bounty meals.

Chiffonade your basil, rolling several leaves into "cigars" and slicing very thin (or if you're like me, snip with your kitchen shears).

Add your herbs to the bowl and toss well.

You could also add chopped red onion or minced green onion - if I'm adding a ton of garlic, I usually take it easy on the onion.

You could call it quits right here, cover securely and put in the fridge for at least a few hours to overnight (those flavors have some melding to do).

Or you could go crazy. :)

Slice up some of those zucchini from your garden. Chop up bell peppers. Add some more herbs. Shuck an ear of corn. You can add anything you like! I sometimes also add feta cheese - so good!

To serve, you can make this a main dish salad by tossing with greens and adding grilled shrimp, shredded chicken or pork, thinly sliced beef. Serve as a side dish. This is my favorite lunch - just a big scoop on top of a bowl of arugula.

This lasts me two to three days in the fridge - I often make one serving bowls thinking it will last two days (and eat it all for lunch the next day).

I hope you enjoy this and would love to hear about your own variations!
There will be salad in this house for summer and lots of it!

What are you eating? What are you growing? Share! Leave a comment or a link to your local food related posts. We want to know!


  1. I am so scared about that photograph ....

  2. Sounds delicious, and wonderfully versitile! We will definitely be trying that here!

  3. Soon...I will be joining in the fun!


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