For the last 15 or so years, my parents have been spending one summer weekend up in Spring Green, WI at the American Player’s Theater.
Spring Green is about 45 minutes west of Madison. They started coming before I ever set sights on Madison as a potential school to go to—before I graduated, took a job, made a life, and bought a house here. When I was in college living in exposed-wire houses with 8 other people, they would politely stop by, sometimes take me with them, and then make their way back to Chicago or rent a hotel for the weekend. Now that I’m a fully functioning adult, with a guest bedroom, things work a little different.
So much so, that this has become one of my favorite summer traditions. They come, we prepare boatloads of salads and sandwiches and snacks that are loaded up into a cooler, and then we take a short drive. We usually see two plays: one afternoon performance (this year: Romeo and Juliet) and one evening performance (The Importance of Being Earnest).
Inbetween, we eat.
It’s always a joy, but this year was especially pleasant because the temperature was comfortable for the outdoor theater. You see, it’s normally about 90 degrees and you’re sitting in the beating sun, sticking to your seat while trying to interpret Shakespeare’s meaning. Or it’s like last year, where the July weekend we choose to go to Spring Green was a fluke 50 degrees, and we ended up wrapping up in blankets for the evening performance.
But this year was ideal, and the food was noteworthy as well. Particularly, this black and white bean salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella was a winner. Dense and flavorful but still summer appropriate. The longer it sits, the more the ingredients soak in the dressing and the tastier the salad gets, thus, it’s perfect for a make-ahead-picnic.
- 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablepsoons dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into ½ inch squares
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- Using a food processor or electric mixer, mix together all ingredients for viniagrette except olive oil until smooth. Slowly add in olive oil and mix until it is thick and emulsified. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together black and white beans. Pour half the viniagrette over the beans and mix. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- To the beans, add onions, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Pour in remaining dressing, mix well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe adapted from the Nutmeg Cookbook.