Very few people enjoy white beans. I’m actually not one of those few. But a salad…that’s something I always enjoy, and with bean salad, it is no different. Not a cold salad though. Slightly warm.  And not a mushy one either. Fresh and crispy. That’s how I like all my salads. Try it, you might like it too.


There can be so much playing around with this recipe:

  • Use a mixture of white and red beans.
  • Do yourself a favor and use either the fresh pods or dry beans from the organic store, but not the canned beans…there is just no comparison between beans freshly cooked…just, just tender with still some bite…and those overcooked, bleak, mushy, floury canned stuff.
  • Keep the colors and flavors in your recipe simple.
  • Add other grapes of your preference, or try figs, which are also in season now.
  • Use chervil along with the parsley, which will compliment the anchovies.
  • The anchovies can be left out or replaced by another fish like sardines.
  • Use red onion for its sweetness.
  • Add some freshly grated ginger for extra piquancy and flavor, in which case one would leave out the chervil.
  • This little salad can be used as an aperitif, which is very “tendance” at the moment – serve a helping on pretty spoons with a cold wine, or serve on a small toast triangle, or in a verrine(small glass), or serve in a bowl with slices of baguette so each person can serve him/herself.
  • Add the grapes cold and just before serving, so as to have nice crisp and cool contrast with room temperature.

Here at the end of summer, I am remembering a garden by the Loire. One I haven’t seen in almost 6 months. A garden I miss for its beauty. Its tranquility. Its animal life. For the many memories it gave birth to.

I remember the hard work, shaping something from nothing. I remember the many mistakes made. But  mostly I remember the small but significant successes. The bounty in flower and foliage, the madness of rambunctious herbs, the unforgiving heat of summer sun, the many surprises and no less , the stubborn, but amusing persistence of the weeds. This all shaped my garden, gave it a rich and full life… gave me a rich and full life… season after season.

I remember being too ambitious. Having too little space and planting far too much. I My little garden turned into a forest by the end of summer…the roquette sweeping through the pebbles, the fennels reaching for the skies, the lavenders dancing wild sambas in the beds, the Pierre de Ronsard  climbing rose playing out a Sleeping Beauty fairytale. The boxwoods’ constant demand for pruning, the long shoots everywhere, the new shoots everywhere, the dead heads waiting paitiently…

I remember how the garden could change as often as I can change my mind. Each seasons’ corners were plentiful and changed from one year to the next. Or even more. There was a corner for reflection, for morning coffee,  one for sipping a coolness in midday. There was  room to bask in the sun and of course a spot chosen somewhere for the meal of the evening. And how romantic were these summer evenings in this garden by the Loire, accompanied by the heady fragrances of  jasmines and roses, lavenders and lilies! These lazy dinners lasted long into the night, lit up by candles and lanterns, handmade especially for me by a lover.

I remember how different this love affair with my little garden was to what I have now here at Coin Perdu, where our eyes follow the fall of the sun every evening to far beyond the horizon. It flames up the skies and we are woken up much later by the brightness of a moon and a starlit sky. In the garden by the Loire,  sunsets were rare, cut off early evenings by the shadows of the cliffs and the welcome coolness of the caves. The small garden enfolded our evenings in a soft dusk pashmina,  a warm embrace of  familiarity and comfort. We lit up our candles and made fires in the summer kitchen. With herbs from the garden we stuffed meats and marinated vegetables. Our summer days began and ended in this little garden.

We lived and worked close together in this tiny “jardin de curé”...the cats, the chickens, the people…we all crowded in the summer cave, or in the working “cave” or in my “ atelier“…purring on cushions, lounging on daybeds, playing guitar, listening to music, reading, talking deep talks, speaking deep thoughts, painting, eating, sleeping…

It was nice.

No. It was magical.

It was mine.

This tiny garden by the Loire.

27 thoughts on “White bean salad with anchovies and Muscat grapes…and remembering a garden by the Loire.

  1. Dear Ronelle
    Your bean salad looks fresh and crispy and I am inspired to make it! Your photos of your garden by the Loire is beautiful and it is with gratitude in my heart that I remember spending some time with you, my friend, in that beautiful garden. I will never forget that time… I told my husband yesterday that it was a dream come true…a movie that I experienced in real life in the french countryside. Thank you!!! Enjoy the new chapter in your life at Coin Perdu! I am looking forward to the stories and pictures of Coin Perdu!


  2. Know exactly what you mean – white beans on their own can be rather boring. Much better to dress them up with some good flavours as you have done. Just recently we were served some by friends as part of a Tapas meal. It’s amazing what a good dollop of allioli can do to make white beans more exciting! Just a thought …
    ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’


  3. I often miss your garden by the Loire, i will always remember the “view from my window” in the morning..looking down onto the rambling roses and the urge to go down immediatly. We have been so privilaged to share your Loire garden on a few occasions that in fact I feel a tiny little part of me is there forever…
    unfortuneatly the cuttings of your Pierre de Ronsard you so carefully prepared and packaged for me to plant in my own garden, lasted only a week or so then slipped away.
    thank you for sharing these lovely images, AND looking forward to Coin Perdu in the making for I know you have been hard at word there!

    The white bean salad looks delish and I love anchovies, so this I shall certainly try!
    Hugs and XX
    Colette-Afrique du Sud


  4. But they are both still your gardens!
    Beautifully written and photoed..
    Your lovely taste is reflected in every little nook and cranny of both gardens.. Be it Coin Perdu..or by la Loire..

    I assure you I would be ooing and ahhing..I am doing that in my head seeing all these shots..
    Enough to be on your nerves I bet..

    La salade.. yumyum…


  5. What a gloriously beautiful place, Ronell. I imagine waking up to that every morning, me and my two brown thumbs. Thank goodness there are plant whisperers like you to make such magnificent (if overgrown) gardens grow so the rest of us can enjoy. Thank you, from the burbling cockles of my heart. Oh, and I AM one of those who love, love, love white beans…firm and resistant in salad, soft and mooshy in hummus-like dip, hammy and buttery in soup. I love ’em, and this way sounds really good. I will try this. Thank you twice.


  6. OH Ronelle your gardens are so lush and amazing. You have such a beautiful way of describing them too. Peaceful, graceful, beautiful, I was tired when I sat down to the computer but I did enjoy your post, as always. It’s perked me up. thank you, Love,Diana


  7. I am engulfed by the beauty you’ve created…with words and photos…and the soil! You are a wizard. Oh, and how could I forget your kitchen wizardry? This is all breathtaking and thrilling to me.

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I am going to try to facebook the posting, but I am having trouble with my password.




  8. Hi Ronelle … I so love white beans (surrounding me in fields growing up, tiny navy beans for me are the best) and catching up. With coming/going in my crazy life (as you do … so no excuse), it’s always a joy to connect with the beauty in your posts and awesome recipes. Count me for trying this awesome treat. (Sweet white baked beans are a taste treat from my French/Canadian mother/father … ) Please know you are a fun treasured friend.


  9. Thank you everybody!
    It seems I will have to edit my wording and change it to only a few people NOT loving beans! where and when did I get left behind on this? I might start enjoying them though

    …..will have to try some of your soup for winter, about a recipe?

    …..and sweet wite baked beans JOEY..never had that either?

    …..and yes, don’t forget aioli, something I DO love…too much!

    bises to all


  10. I was so entranced reading your lovely story of the garden by the Loire that I almost forgot about the salad! It is a magical garden…so beautiful and enchanting.

    I do love beans but the do need additional flavors to make them appealing. I will have to use sardines 🙂


  11. Dear Ronell, and all your other appreciative readers, here’s the bean soup recipe…well, a link to the bean soup recipe…at my self-indulgent little blog, though I hate to call it that in light of the excellence of this one. Right beneath the soup, you’ll meet my darling though departed dad, a Frenchman like yourself, Ronell. He was an absolute pip. Do hope you try the recipe and do hope you enjoy it.


  12. Thank you Jean…yippee, a bean soup recipe…I hope everyone in going to give this a try. I sure will, come winter and I will report back on what I, a non-bean-lover, thinks!

    thanks for stopping by susan…yes, I will enjoy sardines too…love them.


  13. Hi Ronelle,

    I would love the beans and the grapes, not the anchovies. I remember some friends of mine would order is on pizza! Your garden is wonderful, so classic and inviting, just how I imagined a french garden would look. We are warm today but fall is definitely in the air with cool weather expected later in the week.



  14. The story of your garden reads like a fairy tale. I find myself sitting here dreaming and my wheels turning of what I want to add to my own gardens. Like you, I got a little overly ambitious and things started growing out of control. I wanted everything and I wanted it thick and lush, so I was moving things constantly. It sounds as if you no longer have your garden. Have you moved to Coin Perdu?

    Oh, and I got so carried away in your beautiful words and photos ~ I almost forgot to mention how much I love white beans – salads, soups, hummus…love them. Can’t wait to try this new recipe.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts, photos and recipes. So enchanting.



  15. I actually adore white beans and love how you paired it with something salty and then sort of dusky sweet. But your garden Ronelle – is indeed magical. It is enchanted – a place where anything beautiful can happen. And now I am longing for it.


  16. This is just a classic example of all the goodness I have been missing while life happened. I am extremely grateful for all the work I have because of my blog, but I do miss all your amazing posts.

    Love the white anchovies!


  17. I love white beans a lot, in nearly everything! Your white bean salad with the ansjovis looks so refreshing & well flavoured too, my friend! 😉


  18. How absolutely enchanting your blog is!! So happy to have found you. I LOVED your musing on your garden. I am a gardener, so I was enraptured reading about yours!

    Thank you, N.xo


  19. Oh, it’s been too long since I last visited!! I *adore* your way with words and your wonderful eye for photos – I’m going to go to bed with the image of lavenders dacing the samba in my head. Too gorgeous, all of it. En ek SAL nog een dag vir julle kom kuier!! 🙂


  20. That are beautiful thoughts for with heavenly fiid.
    I just pulled a tarte tatin out of my oven (in a house close to the Loire), made with quinces that I preserved using your baked quinces preserve recipe. It looks sooo good that I put a photo on my blog. Now I try to not eat it before my family return home.


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