Back in May we made a quick weekend trip to the Greek island of Kythera for the offical re-opening of the island’s archaeological museum. It had been shut for some years due to earthquake damage. The enforced closure turned into an opportunity to completely revamp the place, turning the two room building into a spectacular showpeice of modern museum display. It is well worth visiting if you happen to find yourself on the island. Oh, yes, the island is also a definite on the ‘to see’ list, complete with scores of Byzantine churches, Venetian fortresses, lovely seculuded beaches and great places to eat.
The main town is called Hora (which simply means “town”). On the hilltop is a large Venetian fortezza looking South towards the stepping-stone island of Antikythera and from there to the West coast of Crete. Below, seen from the fortezza is the harbour of Capsali (or sometimes spelled Kapsali).
Capsali was at one time the major harbour complete with a Venetian quarantine station or Lazaretto, but now is a small fishing village. The ferries arrive at deeper ports, although one can occasionally see small sailing yachts docked in Capsali. Fish tavernas are lined up along the coast. It is very restful eating at the beach with those perfect views over the blue Aegean sea.
We ate at one of those tavernas where the fish was beautifully cooked, but it was this salad we got to go with the meal that had me reaching for my camera and taking notes on the ingredients. I fully intended to replicate it at home while the flavours were still fresh in my mind. Of course, I did with great success.
Capsali Bean Salad
A wonderful cold salad that goes well with any picnic, BBQ or outdoor patio dinner. Exceptional when served with fresh grilled fish.
- 250g cannelloni (or great northern) beans
- 250g chickpeas
- 125g green lentils
- 100g pearled farro
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 large spring onions
- Small bunch of dill
- 100g raisins
- 60ml (about 1/4 cup) red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- Olive oil
Soak both the beans and chickpeas in cold water overnight (though I used pre-skinned chickpeas that did not require pre-soaking.) Cook the beans, chickpeas, lentils and farro separately – starting with cold water and skimming any foam that appears once it boils. The beans and chickpeas may take about an hour or more to cook, but the lentils and farro will take less time. Test periodically for doneness. Drain and let each of these ingredients cool.
To save energy and only hot up the kitchen once in this summer heat, take a tip that is just as energy and labour saving in summer as in winter from Francesca @ Almost Italian. Cook twice the amount and freeze half for future use – for another salad or in other recipes.
Put the cooked ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix. Clean, cut in half and de-seed the tomatoes before roughly chopping the firm flesh and adding it to the salad. Chop the spring onion, including some of the tender green part, and finely chop the dill. Add these to the bowl. Add the raisins as well. Carefully mix.
In a separate bowl whisk the sugar in the red wine vinegar until the sugar dissolves. Pour this on the bean mixture and mix. Add as much olive oil as it can take – usually about the same amount or a little more as the vinegar. Test and add salt. It will need it as the beans, etc. were cooked without salt and the salad will be bland.
Toss the whole thing together and enjoy. Leftovers are a great addition to both bread salad or pasta salad.