Lens Romana

“Lens” is allegedly Latin for lentil or bean, a fact I didn’t know until I began my usual pre-post* Googling. It makes sense, when you look at the shape of a typical glass lens, like those in the more owlish kind of spectacles. Beat up a dweeb today and find out for yourself, ladies and gentlemen! That’s science.

*Pre-post. Ha.

I wonder if Mary Kay sponsors Roman beans

So, food! I bought a welter of Roman beans at the market the other week, and they are beautiful—gloriously spotted and streaked, as though there are messages in Morse code tracing their way across the surface of each bean.

I soaked them overnight, and then I realized that I had no clue how best to use their flavors. The predominant Google yields for Roman beans, recipe-wise, seemed to be soups. Many of said soups were fragrant with sauerkraut, which one can smell through the Internet, no foolin’!

It wasn’t what I wanted. It’s unbearably hot these days. I wanted something light, or at least as light as beans can manage.

Was I remiss in doing the following, readers? What are some things you’d try with Roman beans?

Tentative Salad
Serves 2-3

juice and zest of 1 lemon, or to taste
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups Roman beans, soaked overnight and cooked till tender
3 tbsp. mint leaves, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together first four ingredients until thickened and emulsified. Take pains not to over-beat the olive oil, as it gets bitter when abused (wouldn’t you?). Combine beans and tomatoes in a bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette and gently toss. Add salt and pepper, then mint, gently toss once more, and chill thoroughly before serving.

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4 Responses to Lens Romana

  1. Jenny Flame says:

    I get funny about food in the summer. There are just some foods, like soups and chili’s, that shouldn’t be eaten on a hot day. It’s just wrong.

    I’ve never had roman beans, but I buy white beans often because they are relatively cheap. I usually saute a little onion and hot pepper in some extra virgin olive oil. And then lightly saute the beans. I either eat them on salad or rice, preferably jasmine rice, I’m addicted to it.

    By the way this blog is genius!

  2. Use the correct name and you’ll find more recipes! Those are Borlotti. The white ones, my first choice, are Canellini. Dozens and dozens of great things to make with either, and they really are cheap.

  3. Oh, lentils in Italian are lenticchie, so try that too. I have a French recipe called “La Bomba” on my blog that reorders the universe.

  4. N says:

    Hi Judith,

    You’re completely right, I should have searched for borlotti to find recipes I’d prefer. To do so didn’t occur to me at the time.

    However, the beans I used really were Roman beans, as I see no reason why Goya Foods would lie to me on their product’s packaging. After all, they haven’t yet …

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, Roman beans, borlotti beans, and American cranberry beans are synonymous, or at least nearly so. Cook’s Thesaurus appears to corroborate me.

    Your recipe for salade d’Auvergne looks wonderful. Mustard is a cornerstone of my diet.

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