March 08, 2011

Salad Days: Spanish Green Salad with Tuna and Beans

I dream about having the perfect pantry. One that produces, as if by magic, exactly the right ingredient when I need it. Walnut oil, say, or canned escargots. Clam juice, hearts of palm, Picholine olives. That je ne sais quoi needed to finish a dish, add an unexpected touch, make a dish genius instead of just good.

And then I make something simple for dinner, with every ingredient on hand, and the can opener close by. Really good quality canned tuna. Mixed beans. Sherry vinegar and excellent olive oil. A blend of greens. Finishing salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. In any sort of combination, this rustic and simple salad is a reminder that the basics in your pantry really can combine to make a perfect dish. And that, my friends, is genius.

Spanish Green Salad with Tuna and Beans
serves one very generously for dinner, or two if you add good crusty bread and butter and lots of crisp white wine

Why Spanish?  While this type of salad can be typically be found in Italy, I've given it a twist en Espanol by using Ortiz tuna, Spanish sherry vinegar and Spanish olive oil.  The tuna is premium, and hard to find here; I bought this 250 gr can in London for the equivalent of $9.66.  It's line caught, packed in olive oil and worth seeking out.

According to a Spanish proverb, four people are needed to make a good salad: a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to stir all up

4-6 cups mixed greens: a combination of sturdy crunchy greens like romaine hearts and spicy soft greens, like baby arugula
1 250-gram can of tuna packed in olive oil
½ c mixed beans
Sherry vinegar and olive oil to taste
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Maldon salt, or other large and flaky finishing salt

1. I a large bowl, tear romaine leaves into bite size pieces. Add a couple of handfuls of arugula. You can also add a small amount of micro-greens: I used super-healthy micro broccoli greens. Toss to combine.

The layering effect of coarse to micro is very pretty

2. Drain the tuna and add to the salad, breaking any bigger chunks into smaller pieces as you do. Top with the beans. Add the vinegar and olive oil to taste, and finish with a generous sprinkling of pepper. Toss to combine.

3.  Divide between two plates, season generously with salt and serve.