Category Archives: cooking

dinner on the fire escape: arugula and cannellini salad with olive vinaigrette

Hi, my name is Julie, and I have a Martha problem.

By problem, I mean hopeless obsession. I love Martha. I love her magazine, her cookbooks, her TV show, her crafts, her WASP-y style, her acrid nature, her incredible success. I love that she is a strong, no-nonsense woman who knows what she wants and sees to it that she gets it. I love that she takes shit from no one. My dream is to start a catering business and expand it into a multi-faceted brand name, a la my two favorite ladies, M and Ina Garten. And you know what? I’m not ashamed. I went to an all-women’s college, which taught me that females can have their cake and eat it, too, even if it means society will scorn them as shrews as a result.

Rant over. Let’s get on to dinner. I got “The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics” from the local library, and immediately decided that I wanted to make every single thing it contained. I figured I’d start with salads, since it was hot and since we have pretty much no money right now.

This salad is wonderful, and the dressing is superb–this from one who has eschewed all dressings since the dawn of time. I was expecting a heavy, oily, tapenade-y olive paste, but instead, this dressing is light and herby and even summery. It was done in a matter of minutes. We enjoyed our sitting in the windowsill, half out on the fire escape, looking over the backyards to Prospect Park. A dinner party below honored an opera singer and a violinist, and we were serenaded by both as we ate.

arugula and cannellini salad with olive vinaigrette
from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics
Serves 4

1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives, such as Nicoise (we used kalamata)
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove (we used two)
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 tsp sherry vinegar (we used red wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 15-1/2 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch arugula (about 6 oz.), trimmed and washed
Feta, for serving

  1. Make the vinaigrette: Combine the olives and the water in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the olives are finely chopped. Add the garlic, basil, vinegar, and cumin; process until the mixture is smooth and combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, and red onion, and gently toss. Pour the vinaigrette over the bean mixture, and toss well to coat. To serve, divide the arugula among 4 plates, and mound the bean mixture on top

Note: We added feta to the individual salads, which was a lovely addition.
Storing: Dressed bean mixture keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

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