If you asked my mom, she would probably tell you I wasn’t a very adventurous eater when I was a child. I liked all of the things every other Midwestern child liked. Hot dogs and hamburgers, casseroles, and of course heavy doses of starches like pasta, bread, and potatoes.
It’s what we eat.
It’s what I loved – and I still do. My palate was small but well tested.
I always knew there was more out there.
There were more tastes, more ingredients, more flavors that were waiting for me in the cities and countries I visited in my imagination. The first time I tasted something new it was a glimpse into that world. I ate whatever I could, but always thought “fancy” food was where the real tastes were; the food you would have in big-name restaurants and carried hefty price tags. But, along my journey, I learned something.
Simple is best.
The food that has stuck with me is the simple meals with minimal ingredients but bursting with flavor. They also carry a story, and every bite brings back that story, be it good or bad, funny or sad. This salad brings back one of those stories. It’s a simple story, for a simple dish. Sitting in a restaurant in Morocco, with my dad and my little sister.
We ate the same kind of tajine for days and the only reprieve I had was the variety in the salads offered. Even though it was 15 years ago now, I still see us sitting at that table and eating this with fresh bread. I smile because it makes me think of this very special time I had with my dad (don’t worry he’s still with us – we just don’t live nearby). He’s always made me laugh, and even when the most difficult circumstances were brought up, he offered whatever he could, a hug, a comforting thought, or just a phone call. Simple things.
This simple Moroccan dish makes a great salad served cold, or an appealing vegetarian meal served hot. Just don’t forget the bread!
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans (also known as Great Northern Beans)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 onion chopped finely
- a handful of chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp red pepper
- *Soak the cannellini beans overnight in 3-4 cups of water – this will make cooking much quicker. Alternately you can use canned cannellini beans.
- If you are using dry beans, place them in a pan and fill 3/4 with water. Place on a burner and cook the beans until they are tender.
- In a large pan or skillet add the vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium. When the oil has warmed up add the chopped onions and saute 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and stir. Mix in the crushed garlic, turmeric, salt, cumin, and red pepper. Keep the heat on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans to the tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes. Mix in the parsley and remove the pan from the heat.
- This salad is served at room temperature and can be stored in the refrigerator. It’s even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to mix together.