Sometimes the absence of salt can add drama to a dish. This is always the case with home-cooked beans that don’t come from a can. Their texture is firmer, and because they aren’t heavily salted, or in the case of this salad–not salted at all– their natural creaminess is showcased. My mother makes her head cheese without any salt, which gives the fat a delicate perfumed quality because of the herbs and spices the heads are boiled with. You expect the headcheese to be salty, but instead your taste buds are treated to a creamy delight.
I learned the plated salad technique from my mother’s vegetarian friend. He assembles one with every meal. The beauty of the salad is the layers of flavors and textures—it seems silly to make a big deal about using a plate instead of a bowl, but it does make a difference. You can add any sort of vegetables, but putting the salad on a plate in layers allows you to use different textures and surprising flavor combinations. You can even add sauteed vegetables like mushrooms. In this salad the beans are left in their unsalted state. Don’t mix the salad. It is best served with a spoon so that your family or friends can share.
White Bean Salad with Onion, Cilantro and Lemon
- 2 cups of home-cooked white beans like cannellini, navy bean or great northern beans (cooked without salt)
- 1/4 of a thinly sliced white onion
- handful cilantro leaves
- half of a lemon
- good quality olive oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Place the the cooked white beans on a plate.
- Thinly slice onions, place on top of the beans.
- Wash and remove cilantro leaves from stems, garnish salad
- Squeeze a lemon over the salad
- Drizzle olive oil over the salad
- Season with salt and pepper.