The problem with the inspiring recipe is that it doesn't look "that bad". The primary ingredients are:
- Beans (good, protein)
- Tomato and spinach (good, vegetables)
- The oh-so-chic Mediterranean diet ingredients (olive oil, olives, fresh mozzarella)
But ... as the inspiring recipe is written, a HALF CUP would have 350 calories! A full cup, as seemed right for a vegetarian main dish salad atop other greens (until I did the math), gobbles up 95% of a whole day's worth of calories for someone in 'lose weight' mode on Weight Watchers.
If a bean salad is your idea of an occasional indulgence? The original version is for you!
Me, I'd like to save up for -- chocolate?! ice cream?! rhubarb cake?! -- so my version modified a half-cup serving down to 180 calories. It was very good! All those calories were so unnecessary -- what was the cookbook author thinking?!
(My theory is that the real trouble is that cookbook authors DON'T think. And they DON'T do nutrition analysis. And so they just DON'T KNOW ... and they do all of us a huge disservice.)
And another time, I would modify it still further down to 90 calories.
THAT would be real-life food.
TUSCAN BEAN SALAD
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 5 cups (assume 1/2 cup as a side dish serving, 1 cup as an entrée serving)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (increased from 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano (the inspiring recipe suggests also using 2 tablespoons fresh minced oregano)
2 tablespoons olive oil (reduced from 3/4 cup -- completely NOT necessary, in fact, another time I might skip the oil entirely)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups cooked navy beans (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 yellow onion, diced small (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup oil-free sun-dried tomatoes, diced small (from about 2 ounces) (see TIPS)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced small (see TIPS)
[1/4 cup olive oil --this was specified by the inspiring recipe but was entirely unneeded]
About 4 ounces baby spinach, stems removed, chopped in small pieces (see TIPS)
DRESSING In a large bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients.
BEANS Stir in the beans, onion, tomato, olive and mozzarella (if using). [Stop here and refrigerate if you're making in advance.] Just before serving, stir in the spinach.
NUTRITION ESTIMATE - Per HALF Cup
As written here, with cheese: 180 Cal (42% from Fat, 22% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 10 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 13; 171 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 513 mg Sodium; 18 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3.5 points
As written here but without cheese: 121 Cal (30% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 52% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 13; 71 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 389 mg Sodium; 2 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points
As written here but without cheese and the 2 tablespoons olive oil: Per Serving: 89 Cal (9% from Fat, 21% from Protein, 70% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 13; 57 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 371 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point
YIKES YIKES YIKES As specified by the inspiring recipe: 347 Cal (70% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 19% from Carb); 10 g Protein; 28 g Tot Fat; 6 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 13; 171 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 514 mg Sodium; 18 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 8.5 points YIKES YIKES YIKES
- I was using up leftover beans from the pantry so cooked my own. But canned beans would work fine, try 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained.
- The sun-dried tomatoes really concentrate flavor. But during prime tomato season, I'd definitely use fresh tomatoes.
- Fresh mozzarella is completely wasted here -- its delicate flavor is completely overwhelmed by the strong sun-dried tomato, olive and vinaigrette. I'd skip the expense and calories entirely -- or substitute an inexpensive soft, mild cheese.
- While healthful, spinach seemed off to me, too hearty for this salad. Another time I'd substitute basil or even cilantro. But if you choose spinach, do chop it well or even cut into ribbons.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster