FreshTartSteph Recipe: White Bean Salad with Tomato & Avocado

Is your power back on? Hooey, what a series of storms. It always breaks my heart to see grand old trees downed, especially if their falling damages home and cars. I hope that you escaped damage, and if not, that you’re back on track soon.

After losing power, I’m thinking ahead to the next outage. Pessimistic? Perhaps, although I’m thinking about the simplest of things—batteries in our clock radios, a plan for where to buy dry ice (suggestions?), and a few more pantry staples. I have an electric cooktop these days, so I was pretty happy to have foods on hand that I could eat at room temperature. But I wished I’d had a few more! Luckily I had canned beans and tuna, as well as a perfectly ripe avocado and tomato, so I was able to pull together this refreshing, filling salad in no time at all.

Cooked white beans are always lovely to have on hand. I used canned this go-round, but when I’m feeling organized, I’ll cook a pot of them on a Sunday, with garlic, onion, and herbs, and freeze what I don’t eat right away. Bean salads make terrific vegetarian/vegan fare when entertaining, and are always popular on buffets because they improve with sitting a bit.

Building a dish atop smashed avocado is my favorite way to include avocado in a salad. Slices are fine, and a dollop of guacamole always rocks, but it’s particularly satisfying to swipe every bite through a perfectly seasoned, smooth and creamy puree. Build on layers of crunch (celery, nuts) and creaminess (olive oil, tender beans, cheeses) for main dish-worthy salads.

White Bean Salad with Tomato & Avocado

Serves 2

1 avocado
1 lemon, halved
smoked salt (optional)
1 garden-ripe tomato, sliced
2 c. cooked white beans (if using canned, rinse and drain in a colander)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped basil (or your favorite fresh herbs)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 stalk celery, trimmed & diced small
1/2 can good quality tuna packed in olive oil, drained (optional)
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the juice of 1/2 of the lemon and a pinch of smoked salt (to taste; or use sea salt). Spread the avocado across two salad plates. Top the avocado with tomato slices. Sprinkle the tomato lightly with salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together beans, olive oil, herbs, garlic, shallot, celery, and cheese (if using) or tuna (if using). Squeeze in the juice of the other lemon half. Taste and season with salt to taste. Divide beans over the tomato slices and avocado. Top with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. (Beans can be made up to 1 day head. Assemble the salad just before serving.)