Monday, July 1, 2013

Painters and Ranch Style Beans and Salad

Dear Lauren,

Rule #1. Always have a can of Ranch Style Beans in the house. Rule #2. Feed all workers who come to the house.

The outside of the house was recently painted. Dad is afraid of heights and in some spots the house is 4 stories tall. So, we hired painters. There are two DIY projects dad won't do. Anything related to electricity and anything requiring a ladder.

On day one, I made the painters a cake. It was gorgeous. And the cake was good, but not great. I'll probably continue to look for another lemon cake recipe to use with the glaze from this one. The glaze is gorgeous and so easy to make. The painters were smiling. Actually, they were singing! I learned later that one of them is in a mariachi band!

Today, I made the painters a salad. A salad? For painters? Probably not the best choice! Dad was probably the more popular cook with the painters since he served chili dogs one day and brisket tacos another day. But, I really wanted to make the salad because I really wanted to talk about Ranch Style Beans!

Ranch Style Beans are a staple if you're a Texan. I've never met a Texan who didn't agree with me. Open the can, heat them up and you have an instant side dish that every Texan loves. But, over time I've learned that you can also open a can, toss them in a strainer, and rinse all of the lovely sauce right off. The texture of these pinto beans is excellent and even after rinsing, you have a better flavor than you would if you just bought a can of pinto beans. Rinsed pinto beans and rinsed Ranch Style Beans - they're just not the same! Once rinsed, I've tossed them in a salad (like today), but on other days I've also mashed them up and used them on nachos when I didn't have any refried beans in the pantry. So versatile!

So, here's the salad I fed the painters. They cleaned their plates. They were smiling. I had some myself and I loved it! I found the recipe when I read this month's issue of Food & Wine magazine. I changed a few things up and I also used my stick blender and a Mason jar to make the dressing. Here's my version of the recipe.

Painter's Spring Salad

1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
plenty of freshly ground pepper

1 can Ranch Style Beans, drained of all sauce, rinsed and dried on paper towels
1 small bag frozen peas, thawed
any pretty greens you like (I used radicchio, Boston Bibb, baby arugula)
1-2 avocados, ripe, sliced

Place the first 4 dressing ingredients in a tall Mason jar and blend with a stick blender (you can use a full size blender if you want, but come on...Mason jars and stick blenders are way...funner). Leave the stick blender on and drizzle the oil in the jar until it looks like salad dressing. You'll see! It will happen! Add the cheese and pepper and stir. Then taste it. It might need a little salt.

Arrange the salad on a plate and drizzle with some dressing and serve. To painters. Or anyone!


P.S. It's almost the 4th of July! Yay! Can't wait to see you!
P.S.S. or P.P.S. Why do I always want to spell DIY as DYI? Always! Does this happen to you?

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