CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Four-Bean Salad

Some gardeners will tell you that the first picking of vegetables from their gardens is the best. I don’t really subscribe to that thought, though it’s hard to beat the initial home-grown radishes or tomatoes of the summer.

But I can understand how people might feel that way. There is a certain amount of excitement associated with gathering garden bounty for the first time each year, no matter what vegetable you are picking.

Earlier today, I finished picking my green and yellow wax beans for the second time this summer, and the process of pulling them off the vines and the subsequent snapping and washing gave me a real sense of accomplishment.

But more than anything, I was looking forward to that first batch of four-bean salad.

Yes, I said four-bean, not three-bean. That’s because Therese likes to add a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to her dish that also contains the aforementioned green and yellow beans as well as some store-bought kidney beans.

The salad, which will be ready tomorrow to be served with some oven-baked chicken and baked potatoes, will be just the first of many because beans are among the first vegetables ready in the summer, and they continue to produce, if picked, until late in the fall.

And for me, the last pickings of the season are just as anticipated as the first.

Four-Bean Salad
3 cups cut green and yellow wax beans, mixed
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ green pepper, finely diced
1 15-ounce can light or dark kidney beans
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
¾ cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
⅓ cup salad oil
1 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Steam beans and place in large bowl. Add kidney and garbanzo beans, which have been drained (not rinsed). Combine sugar, vinegar and salad oil. Pour over vegetables. Add salt and pepper; toss. Chill overnight. Before serving, toss to coat beans.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10.

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