- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unlike the familiar sweet and sour American three-bean salad, this colorful vegetable medley is brightened with the fresh flavors of the southern Mediterranean — ripe tomatoes, capers, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Serve it warm, cold or at room temperature.

Three-bean salad, North African style

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked fresh or frozen fava beans or a 10-ounce package frozen lima beans

8 ounces green beans or yellow beans (wax beans), ends removed, cut in half

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

3 ripe plum tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion or sweet onion

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

2 or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or Italian parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon capers, drained

If using cooked fava beans, reserve. If using lima beans, add them to a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add green or wax beans and return to a boil. Cook uncovered over high heat about 5 minutes or until both types of beans are tender. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well.

In a bowl combine cooked beans with chickpeas, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add oil, lemon juice, half the cilantro, salt and pepper, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve the salad warm, cover the bowl and microwave briefly until just heated through.

Just before serving, sprinkle salad with remaining cilantro and with capers.

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