Fasolia salata, or three-bean salad (Greece)

Greece is not hugely popular at the moment thanks to its severe money problems. It’s a shame, considering the rich history and culture of this Mediterranean country, being the Western birthplace of many arts, sciences, ideas and traditions, including the Olympic games. Apparently the Greek healthcare system remains one of the best in the world despite the financial issues. Greece is a highly popular tourist destination especially for Europeans, and not without reason. Especially the large archipelago is stunning. The capital Athens, of course, features many world-famous historical sights (though is also known for poor air quality, especially in the past).

Most famous Greek dishes are heavy on meat or feta cheese, though many Greek restaurants offer meatless versions of the eggplant-based casserole moussaka (usually with plenty of dairy, though). There are also variations using other vegetables. My favorite dish is tzatziki, a yoghurt-based dip with garlic and cucumber which is easy to veganize.

There are, however, many intrisically vegan dishes in Greece, featuring ingredients such as beans and other legumes, green beans, cabbage, potatoes, zucchini and (wild) greens, even beets. Stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) are often vegan. Fasolada is a traditional bean, tomato and vegetable soup, though not well known outside of Greece. Dishes are often flavoured with mint, dill, thyme, oregano and other herbs, as well as lemon and garlic. Both olives and olive oil are ubiquitous. Desserts tend to be very sweet, usually featuring honey and nuts.

I believe fasolia salata can refer to various types of Greek bean salads. Often they use just giant limas (gigantes), but this one uses three types of beans and has some mustard in the dressing. The original recipe makes tons, so I halved it, and it still makes quite a lot. It uses a mixture of dried and canned beans, but I never use canned (I have used no more than 2-3 cans of beans in my life), so I modified it a bit.. I also mixed the red pepper and most of the parsley into the salad instead of just using them as a garnish.

Some of the instructions in the original were a bit weird, hope I got everything right. Cooking green beans 35-40 minutes?! I’ve done that once (accidentally) and the result was horrible. I just cooked them about 8 minutes as I usually do. It’s a fairly tasty bean salad – very lemony as you can guess, the mustard isn’t really discernible – but I prefer the one from Uruguay, which is also quite Mediterranean in style.

Fasolia salata

Fasolia salata

0.5 lbs/275 g dried giant lima beans (butter beans or gigantes)
0.5 lbs/275 g cooked kidney beans (or maybe 4-5 oz/120-150 g dried ones)
0.5 lbs/275 g fresh (or frozen) green beans
1/2 medium-large onion, chopped (or 3 green onions, chopped)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup/0.6 dl of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1.5 lemons
3/4 tsp sweet mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Soak the dried beans overnight. If you are soaking both from scratch, soak and cook them separately until dones, as the smaller beans likely take 50 minutes to little over an hour while the giant limas can take over two hours. Cut the green beans into large pieces and remove the tips. Boil or steam until done, about 7-10 minutues (if using frozen, only thaw them but don’t cook, or cook only quickly).

Mix all the ingredients together (or use some or all of the bell pepper and parsley only as a garnish) and let marinate for at least 1-2 hours. Serve hot or cold.

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