This boldly flavored salad was inspired by the time Jim Botsacos, the chef at Manhattan's Molyvos, spent in Greece—as well as by his passion for garlic. Since its three main components easily stand on their own, he often serves them as separate dishes for a mezze-style buffet. Gigandes are available at Middle Eastern markets, but large lima, Great Northern, or cannellini are fine substitutes.
Terrific Green Salads
1 pound gigandes, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
9 medium garlic cloves, 6 lightly smashed, 3 minced
2 bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small red onion, minced
2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
8 small red or golden beets (about 2 ounces each), trimmed
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Warmed pita bread, cut into triangles, for serving
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, cover the beans with 3 quarts of cold water. Wrap the quartered onion, parsley stems, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large square of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string; add to the beans.
Bring the beans to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until almost tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and cook until tender, about 10 minutes longer. Drain the beans and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice. Add the red onion, celery, minced garlic, chopped parsley and beans. Season with pepper and toss gently. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the beets with the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add enough water to reach 3 inches above the beets; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool the beets in their cooking liquid. Drain the beets, then peel and quarter them.
Transfer the beets and beans to plates; serve with the Skordalia and warm pita.
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