I sometimes marvel at the fact that I seem to spend so many of my waking hours packing lunches, and then I end up with nothing to eat when noon comes around at work.
This is due in part to the sheer exhaustion induced by the daily chore of packing lunches for two kids with multiple externally imposed restriction (no peanuts or tree nuts at elementary school, no ovoid or hard choking hazards at child care) and personal preferences (one carbohydrate-loving vegetarian, one protein-loving omnivore). I must say that I am a fan of these Lunchsense lunch boxes, created by a neighborhood mother, that facilitate the lunch creation process (above: sunflower butter sandwich, sliced fruit, edamame and carrots, yogurt with a side of cereal to sprinkle on top). Still, after all the effort of filling eight separate compartments with nutritious and appealing food, I have no energy to pack lunch for myself.
This week, however, I came up with an easy and delicious grownup lunch, thanks to having cooked up a double batch of heirloom green flageolet beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm.
This is a take on the Tuscan classic of a white bean and tuna salad. I mixed up a quick mustard vinaigrette and added in a can of tuna in olive oil (a great pantry staple for many dishes including salade Nicoise. During graduate school in the Bay Area I waged a private campaign to get Trader Joe's to carry tuna in olive oil by incessantly filling out customer suggestion forms; I feel a slight sense of triumph that it is now widely available). To this mixture, I add the beans and some chopped parsley (we can only dream of vine-ripe tomatoes that would be a delicious addition in the summer). Voila, an instant gourmet lunch, along with some crusty baguette from Eugene City Bakery. And best of all, one batch will last for several days, improving in flavor and alleviating the need to pack another lunch.
Green Flageolet Bean and Tuna Salad
1 cup green flageolet beans, picked over and rinsed
1 can tuna in olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
a pinch of lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook the beans in approximately 4 cups of lightly salted water over low heat until they are tender, about 1 or 1 1/2 hours. If you like, add in the rind of a lemon or a bay leaf to the bean pot as they simmer. Make sure the beans stay submerged in liquid while they cook, but once they have softened, you can cook down the remaining liquid, or drain the beans and reserve the broth for a soup.
2. In the container you will use to transport your bean salad, mix together the mustard and vinegar. Open the can of tuna and mix the olive oil from the can into your vinaigrette. If you are using tuna in water, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to your bowl, and drain off the water from the tuna. Now add the tuna to the bowl, flake with a fork, and mix into the vinaigrette, leaving some chunks. Then mix in the beans (about 2 1/2 cups when cooked), the chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy with some fresh bread.
Other recipes for heirloom beans: