Have you ever been so enthralled, so captivated by a dish you ordered in a restaurant that you feel compelled to make it the very next day? I become a forensic scientist when that happens. I find myself looking at it, smelling it, probing it on my plate with my fork with CSI-inspired precision…literally breaking it down into its individual components. I mean, how else am I going to recreate it? Once I crack the code, all bets are off and then it’s all about pleasure.
The next day (yes, usually the very next day) invariably involves a trip to the market to round up all the ingredients I’ve guessed the dish to have. I then return home and, with the happy expectation of a mouse who has just been shown a round of cheese, head for the kitchen. Have you ever done this?
I discovered this particular recipe in a little restaurant in the East Village eons ago. I’m not kidding…I must have been in my mid-20s then. I can’t even recall the name anymore, that’s how long ago it was. AND it’s not there anymore, sadly. I know because I checked when I was in my old ‘hood’ about three years ago. Then again, NYC restaurants have a way of sprouting up overnight and disappearing just as quickly, so it’s not terribly surprising. Still…sigh. You want some things to live on outside of just your memory.
My friend Fabio and I used to go there quite a bit in those days because it offered really good authentic Italian fare that was inexpensive – not inconsequential given our graduate student status. Plus, in the warm months, they set up some tables outside and we got to seriously people watch in between bites. We had a good deal of great meals together in those days…
In any case, I’ve been enjoying this recipe for quite a long time. I hope you do too.
You can’t get much more straight-forward than this recipe. The most time-consuming part of it is all the chopping. I find having children, and therefore an ample supply of slave labor, particularly helpful here. My seven year old is so grateful to be given ‘adult’ tasks that actually involve something other than a butter knife that she is more than happy to sit at my kitchen table and chop the little strips of peppers and tomatoes that I hand to her in perpetuity. But I’m not some heartless goon profiting from the sweat of my child’s brow. If I was, I’d force her to chop up the onion too.
making rainbow pepper, red kidney bean & feta salad
Gather all the ingredients, which also happen to be so beautifully colored. Chop up 1 yellow and 1 red bell peppers, 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, and 1 small red onion in tiny cubes, slightly larger than confetti.
Chop off one end of each tomato.
Squeeze the seeds out (preferably in the sink to avoid “seed spray” all over the place).
Then chop them up, along with 1/3 cup of parsley leaves.
Add 1 14-oz. can of rinsed red kidney beans and combine everything in a bowl.
Add sea salt & pepper, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and 2 TBSPs of either apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar. I tend to use apple cider vinegar in many of my salads. I like the taste and it’s also less acidic than most other vinegars. White balsamic vinegar clearly packs more of a punch flavor-wise. I use white versus the regular dark one so that the feta cheese stays nice and white and doesn’t look as though it fell in a mud puddle.
Mix everything up and allow it to marinade for a few hours in the fridge. Take it out about an hour before serving so that it has time to lose the chill, which detracts one from fully tasting it.
Note: I find this salad even better the next day, as all the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other better. Makes 6 servings.