Tartine's Tomato, Shelling Beans, and Cucumber Salad

As if the autumn equinox was a light switch, the Interwebs has collectively decided that its all things fall food all the time. Tomatoes have been forsaken for pumpkins, apples, and stews. I can certainly understand the excitement that comes with boots and spiced everything, but let's slow our roll. From NYC to LA, tomatoes, shelling beans, and cucumbers are still available at the farmers markets which makes Tartine All Day's salad a great seasonal transition dish.

Not only is this recipe delicious, but the act of shelling beans is basically a series of happy little surprises. Christmas lima and cranberry pods pop open to reveal varying shades of how-does-mother-nature-do-that color. Even more fun is how the ugliest pods contain the most vibrant legumes. I had a few that appeared to be teetering on the edge of moldy and yet the beans inside were both pristine and the most beautiful of them all. As Lori from Two Peas in a Pod has taught me, shelling beans are the poster food for "don't judge a book by its cover".

Original vs. Adapted


The main change that I made to this recipe was cooking the beans with aromatics à la Mozza's Ceci. This process infuses the beans with an incredible flavor and then the broth can be used for soup, sautéed vegetables, or in place of water for any number of recipes. I like to freeze the broth in 2 ounce portions using this silicone tray.

Sweat it Out

Cucumbers and tomatoes have a high percentage of water that can quickly dilute a dressing. Similar to making a Greek salad, I added a step that involves scraping out the seeds of the cucumber and then sweating both the tomatoes and cucumber in a little bit of salt. This both flavors the ingredients and removes some of that excess moisture.

Recipe Tips

Should I salt my bean water?

I have no idea. I've read a number of articles that talk about salting the soaking water for dried beans but haven't found as much information for fresh. Lori of Two Peas in a Pod says many of her chefs insist that salting the water toughens the skin. Beans need to be flavored somehow, so I decided to add the salt after 15 minutes of cooking (out of 40 minutes total for Christmas limas). I'm not sure if that's the best approach, but the beans had a creamy texture and the skins weren't tough so there you go. I imagine I'll update this section over time.

Visual Cues

I paid close attention to the visual cues while cooking the beans and noted how they changed every 10 minutes. The following timeline is for Christmas lima beans which take longer to cook than, for example, cranberry beans which are smaller (and pictured). Those only took about 20-25 minutes. If you're making the smaller beans, check them earlier. For Christmas lima beans:

  • 20 minutes of cooking: The skins are puffed but the bean is still quite undercooked.
  • 30 minutes of cooking: The skins are a little wrinkled and the beans are close in terms of being ready.
  • 40 minutes of cooking: The skins have settled back down, are a little wrinkled, and the beans are super creamy.


Farmers | Artisans

I make an effort to source my food from local California artisans with a special focus on the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Below is a list of the folks who contributed to this dish.

Ingredients (Adapted from Tartine All Day - Makes 4 Generous Servings)


  • 1 lb shelled beans (from about 2 lbs of pods) Note: This is more than you need for the salad, but it's great to have extra beans for snacking. I've read that you can freeze cooked beans but haven't tried that yet.
  • 10 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 onion (about 3 ounces), left whole
  • Small carrot (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Small piece of celery (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon of flake-style salt


  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 cups cooked shelling Beans (see above)
  • 2 Persian cucumbers (about 6 1/2 ounces), peeled
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 11 ounces), cut in half
  • 1 small shallot sliced thin (26 grams after slicing) Note: I slice the shallot on a mandolin so that it's very, very thin.
  • Handful of torn basil, to taste Note: the basil is really wonderful with these ingredients so I try to have a small piece in almost every bite
  • 3 ounces of mild goat cheese



  • In a medium saucepan, combine the beans, garlic, olive oil, bay leaf, onion, and carrot. Note: I don't bundle the aromatics since they're easy to fish out at the end.
  • Add enough filtered water to just cover the beans.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer. Don't let the water boil during the cooking process.
  • Taste a bean every 10 minutes to gauge texture. Note: Christmas lima beans took 40 minutes whereas cranberry beans took about 20-25.
  • For large beans, add 1 tablespoon of salt after 15 minutes. For smaller beans, add the salt after 8 minutes. Note: As mentioned above under "Recipe Tips", it may be fine to just add the salt at the beginning but I haven't done that yet.
  • While the beans are cooking, place a mesh strainer on a glass storage container large enough to hold the beans and broth then set aside.
  • When the beans are finished, carefully pour the contents of the pot into the mesh strainer. Pick out the aromatics and discard, and then drop the beans back into the broth. Set aside to cool.


  • Slice the peeled cucumbers lengthwise, gently scrape the seeds out with a spoon, then slice into 1/2-inch moon pieces.
  • Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
  • Set a mesh strainer over a large bowl that's big enough to make the dressing and toss all of the salad ingredients.
  • Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
  • When the beans are halfway done, gently combine the cucumber and tomato halves with a generous 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
  • Transfer everything to the mesh strainer and sweat for 25-30 minutes, gently tossing once or twice.
  • When the tomatoes and cucumber are done sweating, transfer them to the plate lined with paper towels, gently pat dry, then discard any liquid in the bowl.


  • In the same large bowl that you used for the sweating process, add the red wine vinegar.
  • Slowly whisk the oil into the red wine vinegar.
  • Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.


  • To the bowl with the dressing, add the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, goat cheese, shallot, and torn basil. Gently toss to evenly distribute. Season with salt (if needed) and freshly ground pepper, to taste.


  • Refrigerate the extra beans in their cooking liquid for 1-2 days.
  • Strain and freeze the broth in 2 ounce portions. I use this silicone tray.

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