Fresh and Simple

A few days ago I was perusing the archives of one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  I’ll just admit right now that I was at work, and yes, I was procrastinating, and yes, Deb has about a million recipes on her site so I may or may not have been clicking around for oh, I don’t know, the better part of an hour.  Shhhh!!  Now I think at least a few of you will know what I mean when I say that all that clicking around and staring at vibrant photos and thinking about recipes and thinking about how to tweak recipes and trying to remember what’s already in the fridge so that you won’t buy doubles next time you go to the store AND narrowing down the choices for what you might want to make next…(whew!)… well, it can make a girl’s head spin.  (Yes I know that was a run-on sentence, but work with me here, it’s a device, ok?)

So.  I took a step back from the computer, blinked a few times, and clicked one last time, promising myself that I’d make whatever recipe came up so that I could just get on with it and go back to work.  What showed up on my screen was this: Deb’s mother-in-law’s Russian Brown Bread.  As much as I wanted to make that, I needed more of a lunchy type of meal.  Luckily, Deb had included a link to her NPR feature on zakuski, or Russian hors d’oeuvres.  I made the Georgian Kidney Bean salad at the bottom of the page and loved it so much that I made a variation of it for lunch today.

Summer Pasta Salad with Kidney Beans and Cilantro
Makes about 4 cups

1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno pepper, minced*
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, diced*
3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 oz whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of salted water on to boil (a very large pinch of salt should do the trick). While the water is boiling, mince the garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno, and place in a large bowl. Dice the onion and add it to the bowl, too. Add the olive oil and vinegar and whisk all ingredients together.

Once the water has come to a rapid boil, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. (If you bite off half a piece of the pasta, there should be no trace of white on the interior, but the pasta should not be mushy either). Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Toss the salad together and, if you’d like, let the salad sit for a little while at room temperature or in the fridge. This will give the flavors time to meld and will also cause the onions to soften and mellow a bit. When ready, serve at room temperature.

 *I didn’t have a jalapeno OR a tomato on hand the time I made the recipe for these pictures, but you should definitely include them when you make it!


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3 Responses to “Fresh and Simple”

  1. Christie Says:

    Yum! That looks great. I’d add some red bell pepper.

  2. Avra Says:

    Great recipe and photos. Like you, I like to adjust and change to suit my tastes and ingredients available on-hand. In fact, you can see what I did to your version of this pasta salad at:

    Feel free to peruse some of the recipes I have posted and see what you can do to them!

  3. matt wright Says:

    Looks fresh and tasty! I could really do with a plate of this great salad right now.

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