Summer Salad with Butter Beans
- ½ lb butter beans , boiled
- 7 oz cucumbers
- 1 celery heart
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 sprig wild fennel fronds
- 5 oz green salad
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- salt to taste
- ground pepper to taste
Put oil, lemon juice, salt and fennel fronds in a blender and puree into a smooth dressing.
Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut into half-moon shaped slices. Place in a bowl with the butter beans, rinsed and drained, and heart of the celery, washed and chopped. Toss the vegetables with the dressing and mix well.
Wash the lettuce well, then tear apart with your hands. Arrange lettuce on a serving dish and place the bean salad on top. Wash and slice tomatoes into rounds. Garnish the salad with sliced tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Finish with a generous grind of pepper and serve.
Beans are one of the few vegetable varieties that were present both in Europe and in the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage. The species of bean known today as dolichos beans are, probably, originally from the western Asia and then spread to Egypt, were beans were used as an offering. From Egypt, beans then spread to Greece and Rome. In Rome, however, they were considered unrefined and unappetizing.
Nowadays, the most common variety of bean comes from central and south America, where the beans have been cultivated for over 7,000 years. Christopher Columbus discovered the American beans on his second trip and, upon his return, they spread quickly throughout Europe. Europeans liked the American beans for how similar they were to other European products and because they were easy to grow and have a high yield.
In just a few years, beans became a fundamental part of the diet of the lower classes to the point of being called “the meat of the poor,” due to both their cost and nutritional value.
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