Friday, May 31, 2013

Tomato Basil Salad with White Beans & Bocconcini

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'm cheap take-out is expensive and I'm picky often not very good.  My well-stocked pantry and refrigerator save my bacon many a day, and before I know it a delicious salad like this comes together in under 15 minutesEasy.  And right now easy is good. 

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.


  1. Looks terrific and your photos are gorgeous (as always). Hey, I have an idea. Why not find a big vacation home somewhere in Saskatchewan and do a food photography workshop? I'll come :)

  2. That salad is just so unbelievably gorgeous. I just stumbled across your blog and I'm in love!

  3. What a perfect salad for summer!

  4. Looks so refreshing for a hot summer day!

  5. Donna! What a great idea! Now to find a place :)
    Grandbabycakes - thanks for stopping by!
    Kathy - yes it is :)
    Movita - Yes, you do!
    Agi - I know I'll be eating it loads this summer. So quick & delicious :)

  6. The salad is so healthy & beautiful! Can't wait to try it.

  7. I always feel like I never know what I'm going to feed myself! So glad I found this recipe though - I can't wait to try it out this week!

  8. Hybrid or not, this salad looks just gorgeous. I wish I could be half as inspired when I'm standing around thinking of what to make for my solitary lunch :/

  9. Renee, sounds like your garden will be amazing this year!
    In the meantime it looks like you're eating pretty darned well. Love those quick toss together salads. They always make me smile and my belly happy.
    Stunning pix as always.

  10. Inspired by you I did a varation with white bean, red onion, feta, tomatoes and fresh thyme. So yummy and fresh. No dressing just a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic and a bit of black pepper.

  11. I just found your beautiful many recipes are my taste, I pinned a bunch and added to my blog roll.
    Wow, where have I been?

  12. Ana - thank you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)
    Chung-Ah - I can totally relate. It's amazing what you can make with a few simple ingredients.
    Needful - There are days when it's tough getting inspired to feed oneself. Those are eggs on toast days for me :)
    Erin - Thanks lady! I hope the garden does well; I finally got it all planted tonight. Now it can rain all it wants!
    Crystal - I love your variation. Anything goes!
    Stacey - Hi! Welcome! I'm so happy you found my blog. Thanks so much for stopping by :)

  13. I just made this but substituted mozzarella and couldn't find pea shoots so I added red onion and avocado. My new staple! Thank you! Gorgeous photos

  14. Alina - I love your additions. It's a staple around here too!

  15. This is totally my idea of food heaven!! Pinned :) Loving the photography too, keep up the great work!


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