Summer Salad Inspiration from Provence

After an early morning meeting I decided to 'take five' at my favorite local French cafe in New Hope, PA.   A change of scenery is always good for blog inspiration and inspire it did!  

Forgoing the comfort of the AC I choose to sit outside on the shaded patio and take in the scenic view of the river.   As I sip my coffee and bite into a light and flaky chausson des pommes (fancy for Apple pastry) I am greeted, as if on cue, by a large friendly dog and giggling French children.  The simultaneous sounds, sites and bites instantly flood my mind with memories of summer vacations in Provence.  Cliff views overlooking the sea, lavendar fields for miles and of course the food!  The amazing array of vegetables, fish, meats, salads...expertly and effortlessly prepared to be enjoyed al fresco.  Lemons, olives, tomatoes, fresh herbs, goat cheese, peppers....prepared in ways I had never before experienced and are now forever tattooed to my senses.

Farcis - Stuffed vegetables - peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant filled with an array of savory ingredients.  These were not my mothers stuffed peppers.  (No offense, mom!)

Bouillabaise - Amazing fresh seafood stew finished with a saffron aioli topped "crouton".  

Salades - Endless combinations of summer vegetables and greens with light and flavorful vinaigrettes.

Fougasse - A Provencal flatbread.  The perfect accompaniment to aforementioned salads.

After one of my trips to France I was delighted to find the May 1999 Special Collector's Edition of Bon Appetit, Delicious Provence, in my pile of mail.  It has become like a sacred bible to me and continues to influence my cooking today including my White Bean and Arugala Salad with Sausage recipe.  Grab a bottle of rose, fire up the grill and enjoy this salad cool and delicious salad fresco, of course.

White Bean and Arugula Salad with Sausage

30 oz white beans, drained and rinsed
Small roasted red pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp oregano, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste.
10 oz baby arugula
1 lb grilled sausage.   

Combine beans, roasted pepper, and onion in a large bowl.   Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs in a small bowl.  Toss with beans.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Chill for at least 2 hours and up to two days. When ready to serve toss bean mixture with arugula.  Top with grilled sausage. Bon Appetit!