Friday, July 13, 2007

Camp -- Three-Bean Salad

"Three-bean salad is adult food." That's what my staff told me at camp last week.

"Campers don't eat exotic salads," I warned two years ago. 'Exotic' meant any salad except except tossed green salad and potato salad.

"Prepare small quantities of salads such as three-bean, cucumber and onion, and marinated tomato for the adults and some older campers."

Undaunted by my cook's warnings (all mothers) -- and my own writing -- I directed the salad cook to prepare a large pan of three-bean salad for the campers last week.

This camper frowns at the cole slaw and three-bean salad as she passes the salad bar. The Independence Day barbecue featured a full salad bar in the outdoor dining area.

About two gallons of the stuff was prepared and placed on the salad bar for each lunch and dinner.

By Saturday morning, a medium bowl of the salad with an R.I.P sign sat near the dining room exit. In between its creation and demise, two staff members (myself and a male counselor) each did their personal best to reduce stocks.

I can affirm this one fact: kids at the Northern California FC Camp consumed less than half of the three-bean salad.

This is one tradition the kids choose to ignore. It seems that we need to leave three-bean out of the mom, apple pie and grilled burger equation.

Tossed salad with ranch dressing was more to their liking. It seems these mothers know a thing or two about kid's tastes.

What happened to the three-bean salad, you ask? Two quarts came home with me. A bowl a day and it'll be gone by Sunday.

And the rest? Sad to say, I listened to a few mothers and resisted the urge to freeze it for the 2008 camp.


This recipe makes about 3 quarts. One or two recipes are sufficient for a camp of 150 children of mixed ages and adults for the salad bar for a week. One recipe prepares 24 (1/2-cup) servings if portioning is called for.

Add additional sugar for a sweeter salad if desired. Substitute canned cannellini beans for the green or kidney beans if desired. Use beans with contrasting textures when selecting beans to use for the salad.

1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, diced fine
1/2 green bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasional, about 5 minutes. Cool dressing to room temperature. Combine canned beans, onion, green and red bell pepper, parsley and cooled dressing. Mix well and chill until service. Portion into 1/2-cup servings if desired.

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