Sunday Lunch

I often think that lunches are my favorite meals.  I have time to create and experiment; I’ve just been to the farmers markets; I can have wine with lunch and nap afterward; and I can do the dishes hours later.

So this Sunday was one of those lunches.  Three basic elements, and a wonderful wine discovery from the cellar:

  • chopped salad featuring some outstanding young red beets
  • a bean purée, from an amazing white bean from Campania
  • a fairly unorthodox vinaigrette
  • and the wine: 2007 Pallagrello Bianco from Terre del Principe

The main feature of the meal was the chopped salad; prosaic name but fantastic ingredients:

  • young beets, boiled, peeled, and cubed
  • small fennel bulb, heavily trimmed and slice thinly
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • Tuscan green olives with lemon, pitted and chopped
  • Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
  • Spanish caper berries, finely chopped
  • one tomato, seeded and chopped
  • mustard greens, boiled and chopped
  • and for “bacon” flavor, King Trumpet mushrooms, thinly-sliced, topped with salt, pepper and pimenton, and oven-roasted

beet salad with radishes, fennel etc

Now it’s time to check the refrigerator for any leftover greens, for color and background.  Arugula would be nice, but I did not have any.  However, mustard greens have a nice little bite to offset the sweetness of the beets, so I added them.

chopped salad with mustard greens

The accompanying vinaigrette had a few outlier ingredients as well:

  • Dijon mustard
  • prepared horseradish
  • red wine vinegar
  • walnut oil
  • olive oil
  • Calabrian red onion jam
  • 2 tsp. water

Finally, the cement that brings the meal together: a white bean purée.  This was made from a small white bean from Controne, Italy, in Campania.  I had purchased a small bag of these last year from BuonItalia in the Chelsea district, Manhattan, and I finally tried them two weeks earlier.  They were one of the best I had ever had.  Naturally, BuonItalia were out of stock for the season, but I did find a distributor in Seattle via the web, and they graciously agreed to sell to an enthusiastic amateur like me, so long as I met their minimum order size requirements.

Controne Beans

I don’t always highlight beans on a fine oriental carpet, but these are that good!  They purport to be “no-soak”.  I have made them three times, twice with soaking the beans overnight, and once without.  I prefer to soak them, but it works either way.

Anyway, you cook them for 1.5-2.0 hours, adding sea salt late in the process.  Let cool, and turn them into a gorgeous purée.  Put a garlic clove in the food processor and chop finely.  Place beans in food processor and purée; add some of the bean cooking water, sea salt and olive oil, q.b.

controne bean crema

I added a few trimmings: a roasted Portobello mushroom, reheated in the oven, and some toasted whole wheat pita bread from a Lebanese vendor at the farmers market.

table setting Instagram

The wine was a serendipitous discovery in the wine cellar.  I had found a 2007 Pallagrello Bianco (Fontanavigna) from Terre del Principe.  It had been tucked away underneath a number of more recent purchases on  the top of my wine rack.  It was very special — overtones of Mandarin orange, kumquat, and lemon — very drinkable and perfectly matched to the dishes.  This is definitely a wine I will look for again.

Pallagrello Bianco

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