Do you ever have those days when you don't know what in the world you are going to feed yourself? I see your heads bobbing up and down so I'm going to take that as a yes. Lately I've been having plenty of those glassy-eyed glances into the refrigerator. Chalk it up to a new gardening season going at full throttle and other fun extra-curricular activities occupying a good chunk o'time. And then there are those days when I just. don't. want. to. cook. There I said it. I make a living feeding people and some days I find it hard to muster the energy to feed my own belly. It's ever-so-tempting to stop by the pizza place on the way home, but
I hit up my local farmer's market every weekend for the good stuff until my own veg are ready to harvest. On this day of too much hunger and too little time, I had a motley mix of tomatoes, a cucumber, a good handful of fresh basil and pea shoots on hand. Way, way back in the fridge was an almost forgotten about tub of bocconcini, half full. Hurrah! As soon as there's cheese, a salad is born. Further investigation into recesses of the pantry procured a can of white beans. Protein! It's officially a meal. I also spotted some crispy croutons I'd made recently enough to still be edible. Yes. God I love homemade croutons. Olive oil is always hanging about, as is balsamic vinegar and that's pretty much all you need for a dressing on a salad when all of the primary ingredients are so fresh and flavourful. Of course the beauty of it all is that you can swap out ingredients for whatever you have kicking around - extra cooked quinoa instead of the beans; feta for the bocconcini; mint for basil. No croutons? Not a big deal. I think as long is there's some sort of protein: veg: cheese: fresh herbs happening it's all going to be hunky dory. Bet you haven't heard that since 1985.
What we have here is an odd salad hybrid of sorts: part panzanella meets caprese, with a bit of Greek and bean thrown in for good measure. But you know what? It totally works. Tomatoes, basil and fresh baby mozza. It's the bomb. The crispy cubes of bread soak up all of those luxurious juices, while the cucumber lends a veggie infusion and the pea shoots add the pretty. White beans are a blessing in disguise and I highly recommend you have cans of them tucked away in your pantry at all times. They are a healthy source of protein when you just don't have time or inclination to cook meat. Love your legumes, people. Plated on my prettiest platter, I ate up every last crouton crumb. Better than take out? You better believe it.
Tomato Basil Salad with White Beans & Bocconcini
2 handfuls of small tomatoes, larger ones cut in half
1 cup white beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh croutons
1 cucumber, sliced
1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 cup bocconcini cheese
1/2 cup fresh pea shoots
small handful of chives, thinly sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp maple syrup
salt, pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. In a jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake it. Pour over salad and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with more pea shoots. Serves 2.