Marco Island resident Marion Nicolay has once again welcomed me into her home and her kitchen. Last time I met with Marion she taught me how to make a simplified version of Beef Miroton, or red wine sauce served over roast beef. The recipe for Marion’s Beef Miroton can be found on our website, coastalbreezenews.com.
As we enter into the fall season, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, Marion and I decided to make some traditional and simple fall recipes. These recipes can be served as a side dish at Thanksgiving, an appetizer for a dinner party, and are perfect for a potluck or gathering.
We met early in the morning. The oppressive summer heat had finally loosened its grip and there was a slight breeze in the air. In Florida we don’t have distinct markers for the change of season. The leaves don’t yellow and wither, the air remains ever humid, and the weather doesn’t deviate too far from bright and sunny. But the change, however small, is always felt.
Fall brings with it a sense of nostalgia. As I entered into Marion’s kitchen I felt as if we were cooking for a big family event, though it was really just the two of us making lunch. Fall was in the air and we were both excited to get to work on some seasonal dishes.
We started with the Pennsylvania Dutch bean salad, a recipe that Marion has had since 1960 and has modified over the years. This salad is incredibly easy to make and adds a nice, bright pop of color to the dinner table. It’s also a perfect side dish for vegetarians, who don’t always have a lot of options during Thanksgiving. And compared to the usual heavy fall dishes, this one is light and refreshing.
“People who go to Thanksgiving dinner are always asked to bring things,” said Marion. “This is a good thing to bring as a side dish.”
We opened the cansof red kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, corn kernels and green beans and dumped them into a colander. It’s important to save the green beans and the wax beans for last as their liquid works well to clean the other beans. We then transferred them to a large bowl. Marion got to work cutting the green pepper and celery as I mixed the beans together. I then chopped the onion and we added the veggies to the bowl.
Marion, who is legally blind, is very tactile. She chops the vegetables, feels them to make sure they’re the right size, and then continues chopping to her liking. “When I cook by myself nowadays I go by feel,” said Marion. We work well together because she can rely on my eyes and I can rely on her knowledge.
The last step is making the dressing. We added the canola oil and apple cider vinegar to the blender and mixed. We then added the sugar and cilantro. If you’re not a cilantro person, feel free to omit it. But I will say, it adds a very fresh flavor to the dressing. Mix into bean salad and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
This is a big dish and it packs a lot of interesting flavors and textures. It’s sweet and tangy from the sugar and apple cider vinegar, crunchy and smooth from the beans and the celery, and there’s just a hint of added freshness from the cilantro. And it only took us about 10 minutes to make.
“It’s such a pretty thing and it’s so easy,” said Marion once it was all done.
We then moved onto “pigs in a blanket,” another one of Marion’s go-to, easy fall recipes. Marion just recently made 60 for an event at her church. She said they were all gone in about 5 minutes.
All you need for this pigs in a blanket recipe is precooked sausage links and a can ofcrescent rolls. Using a pair of scissors we cut eat individual roll into two triangular pieces, though we recommend cutting it into three. Starting at the pointed side of each triangle take a sausage and roll it up the crescent roll. We then popped it in the oven and 12 minutes later we were good to go.
Both recipes turned out great. The bean salad was the winner, though. It’s one of those recipes that’s so simple yet so delicious it will impress your friends and keep them coming back for more. It packs such a surprising punch. I will definitely be making it again soon.
Thanks again to Marion for letting me into her home and teaching me another valuable cooking lesson.
Pigs in a Blanket
1 package of fully cooked Jimmy Dean sausage links (12 count)
1 can of crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 375.
Using scissors cut each individual crescent roll into three, triangular pieces.
Starting from the pointed end of the crescent roll add a sausage. Roll sausage in the dough and place seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet.
Cook for 11-13 minutes.
Marion’s Pennsylvania Dutch Bean Salad
1 can red kidney beans (15 oz.)
1 can black beans (15 oz.)
1 can wax beans (14.5 oz.)
1 can corn kernels (15.25 oz.)
1 can garbanzo beans (15 oz.)
1 can cannellini beans (15.5 oz.)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup oil (we used canola but you can use olive, vegetable, or any other oil)
½ cup sugar
1 cup cilantro (optional)
Pour kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, wax beans, cannellini beans, corn kernels, and green beans into colander. Transfer to large bowl.
Coarsely chop onion, green pepper, and celery and add to bowl.
In a blender or food processor combine apple cider vinegar and oil and blend. Then add the sugar and cilantro. Blend until smooth and thoroughly mixed.
Pour dressing over bean salad. Mix and cover. Refrigerate for about 8 hours or overnight for best results.