Easy Beansy Beautiful

Chere Libby,

So, after months of research and deliberation, I have finally done it.  I bought the Clarisonic Mia

It was time.  Post-partum skin notwithstanding, I’m now officially in my mid-thirties.  If I don’t start pushing the envelope on my skin care “regime,” I will be behind you and the rest of our peers, all of whom seem to have known that using hand-soap as facial cleanser is probably not the best idea.

What finally did it, you ask?  Blue Mercury! It’s here! In the great Pacific Northwest!  I took you there, didn’t I?  When you visited me in Philly?  It’s this fabulous luxury beauty product boutique where you can try EVERYTHING!  The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.  Plus, they are great about returns.  Anyway, their first Seattle store opened up and, while waiting to take Harvey to the doctor for his 8-week appointment, I popped in. 

After trying a few lipsticks (I’m just loving anything bright pink these days) and rubbing like ten different lotions on various exposed body parts, I saw it.  The Mia.  Now, I have been researching this thing ad nauseum for months.  I’m not sure what I have been waiting for.  Perhaps a spontaneous reversal of the aging process? A sudden influx of money, for which we have no other use? Counter space? Whatever it is, it hasn’t happened.  It was time.  So, I splurged.

I haven’t used it yet (it has to charge for 24 hours and then I have to remember to bring it into the shower with me).  But I have really high hopes.  I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, as you know, whenever I commit to a new beauty routine I suddenly feel the need to drink more water, exercise and eat organic shit.  Because, well, beauty starts from within (said in my xxx voice). I have a hard time committing to any of the above (come on, admit it - sometimes organic produce just looks shitty), but at least I can say I think about it.  And it does inspire me to look around my recipe archives for some kind of healthy dinner plan.  So…without further ado…the reason I originally wrote you:


But not just any beans.  Gigante beans!  For some reason, Seattle seems to be the gigante bean abyss, as I can’t find them in any store, specialty or otherwise (do you have them around there?). So, I started buying them online and, after trying many brands, have settled on these as the absolute best.  They are all fairly uniform in size and cook up evenly.  Don't be intimidated by all the Greek writing!!!  You can approach them like any other dried bean.  Add a few other simple ingredients, et voila! 

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My only disclaimer is some of the steps take some time.  As such, I often soak/cook the beans (and roast the tomatoes - see below) on a weekend, keeping them refrigerated until Monday night, when I can prep the rest of the ingredients and toss it all together for a quick, healthy meal!  If you can find canned gigantes, more power to you...

Gigante (aka HUMUNGOUS) Bean Salad.

500 g dried gigante beans, soaked overnight (or at least 8 hours);
1 bunch asparagus, washed and prepped
2 pints grape tomatoes, slow roasted (recipe follows)
12 oz marinated, quartered artichokes, drained, liquid reserved
2 Tbsp shallot, minced
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and Pepper
Crusty bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic, for serving

For Tomatoes (oven at 275F):

Wash and halve tomatoes.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on greased baking sheet, cut side up.  Roast in oven approximately 1.5 hours, or until slightly dried and shriveled looking,

Meanwhile, cook soaked gigante beans:

Bean Tip: As you near the end of the cooking period, test 5 beans to assess for doneness. This will help insure you don’t undercook your beans by having tested a more cooked outlier!

Place in large soup pan.  Add enough water to cover beans by approximately 2 inches.  Bring to gentle simmer, cooking until tender – about 60 - 90 min.  Drain and set aside. 

Roast Asparagus (oven at 425F):

Coat liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on prepared cookie sheet, making sure not to crowd them!  Roast in oven 8-10 minutes, or until crisp-tender (they will continue to a cook a bit after you remove them from oven, so don’t over cook!).  Cut into just larger than bite size pieces

Make Salad:

Toss gigantes, roasted tomatoes, asparagus  and shallots with olive oil.  Add drained artichokes, again tossing to coat.  Add some of the reserved artichoke liquid (2-3 T), red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Adjust seasonings to taste!

Serve on top of garlicky toast, alongside a simple green salad and some good cheese.  Do note this salad looks best the day it is made (asparagus turns a sad green color the next day), however it tastes great for a few days after.