Snow is angelic. The winter is often perceived as a time of hibernation of life, but simultaneously it is a time that awakens the senses. Blanketed every things: trees, rocks, roofs, pavements, cars, and soil remind us, humans, to come alive, to burst through the veiling of white. When snow falls our manmade things and even nature recedes underneath a swathe of powdered sugar–when the whole world suddenly becomes carpeted with white linen and sparkles, activity stands out in this pristine landscape. While the land rests under its down comforter of white feathers, humans go about their lives, streaking and buzzing past this still and ephemeral white environment. The paradox of movement and color against static white can even be captured in the medium of food. Food should reflect the seasons in ingredients as well as feeling and aesthetics. This Ajwain* scented heirloom bean and clementine salad utilizes in-season ingredients and is inspired by a winter scene–white snowballs dappled by rupturing colors and sharpened textures.
*Ajwain is a traditional seed used in flavoring Indian and Pakistani dishes. When toasted the Ajawain flavor claims a potent resemblance to a minty kind of thyme. Often used in legume-based dishes, I find that the seed’s bitter and somewhat caraway-like taste melds well with tangy and sweet clementines.
To make: follow the cooking directions to your favorite variety of white beans (I used heirloom Controne beans). Toast no more than ¼ teaspoon Ajwain seeds in a dry pan until golden. After cooking the beans, while they are still hot, pour over a vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, sweet mustard, clementine zest and juice, toasted Ajwain seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss greens of your choice in same vinaigrette. Peel and section Clementine’s and mix with beans. Top bean and clementine mixture with the greens.