Ceci Bean, Shaved Celery and Cabbage Salad

A clean, fresh-tasting summery salad with lots of satisfying crunch and bright flavor, this is a winner. Ceci beans, which are also called chickpeas and garbanzo beans, were a staple in my house when I was growing up. Mamma Glo made pasta fagiole for the whole neighborhood, the homestyle pasta-and-bean soup that Italian home cooks have been making for generations, but she also tossed cooked ceci beans into salads and vegetable dishes. They are a great sponge for other flavors, especially lemon and olive oil.

Serves 4

Champagne vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked ceci beans (also called chickpeas and garbanzo beans), recipe follows
  • 1 cup shaved celery
  • 2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a blender, combine the vinegar, lemon juice and zest. With the mixer running, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a storage container or glass jar, cover, and refrigerate until needed and for up to 2 days.

2. In a mixing bowl, toss together the beans, cabbage, celery, scallions, bell peppers, parsley, and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add enough vinaigrette to dress well. You will need between ½ and ¾ cup. Reserve any leftover vinaigrette for another use.

4. Divide the salad among 4 serving plates or pile it high on a platter.

About the wine:

While the creamy ceci beans may be able to handle a red wine, there are many detractors to that plan in this dish, such as the high-acid components: champagne vinaigrette and lemon. Keep it fresh and clean with your wine choice. Crisp, lean Muller-Thurgau from a producer like Pojer e Sandri in Trentino will stay in theme.

Cooked Ceci Beans
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Farro with Vegetables

A grain-based antipasti makes all kinds of sense to me. The grain absorbs the stock, similarly to rice when you make risotto, and becomes nice and creamy -- the ideal foundation for the sautéed vegetables. I love to make this with summer vegetables but you could use others veggies, depending on the season.

Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups uncooked whole-grain farro, see Note
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon slivered garlic
  • 12 pearl onions, blanched
  • 1/2 cup diced fennel
  • 1/2 cup slender green beans (also called French beans)
  • 1/3 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow squash
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, (about 1 ear)
  • 16 red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
1. To prepare the farro, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and cook the onions for 2 to 3 minutes just until softened but not colored. Add the farro and stir until lightly toasted and evenly coated with butter and onions. 2. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat the stock over medium-high heat until simmering. Adjust the heat to keep it at a low simmer.

3. Reduce the heat under the farro to medium and in 3 additions, slowly stir the chicken or vegetable stock into the farro until it absorbs the liquid and is cooked through, similarly to cooking risotto. Reserve any stock you don't need. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside to keep warm.

4. To prepare the vegetables, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the slivered garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the onions, fennel, green beans, zucchini, squash, and corn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions soften. Add the tomatoes, olives, and basil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir the vegetables into the farro. Set the saucepan over medium heat and add cheese, butter, and vinegar. Stir gently and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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