Whether canned or dried, beans are the backbone of any strong pantry. Strong, like silent soldiers, waiting to leap into action to help you create a meal. With a strong pantry you will never go hungry, even when you are too tired to go to the grocery store.
Canned Beans vs. Dried
While canned beans are good for certain recipes or when you are short on time, nothing can beat a dish started with dried beans.
Soaked overnight and cooked slowly the next day, great are the rewards in flavor for healthy dishes like this simple white bean salad. Add a generous amount of fresh chopped herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil and you have a satisfying side dish for grilled chicken, shrimp, pork or beef.
Rancho Gordo Beans
It wasn’t until I discovered Rancho Gordo that I really began to cook with dried beans.
Based in Napa, California, Rancho Gordo brings high quality heirloom dried beans to market. Beans that are grown in limited quantities. Beans that have better flavor and texture than your generic super market dried beans. Beans that are fresh. Once I tried their bean varieties, dried beans became a constant in my pantry. My favorite and the one I can’t live without? Cannellini beans.
Big, white, creamy-tender pillows, Cannellini beans (white kidney beans) are very versatile. I use them in soups, salads, stews and side dishes with wonderful results. Cannellini beans are good for you and an inexpensive source of protein. If you are vegetarian or vegan, these beans are your “meat”.
Soak Beans at Bedtime, Cook the Next Day
For this white bean salad, start the beans soaking before you go to bed. The next day, cook them and finish the salad. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lots of fresh herbs and a little olive oil. Sometimes I add crumbled feta cheese or Parmesan.
Sometimes I serve them as a side dish. Sometimes I just have a small bowl as a healthy afternoon snack. For dinner, I’ll top with my beans with grilled chicken or shrimp. Cannellini beans are incredibly versatile.
Once you understand the simplicity of cooking dried beans, they will become a canvas for many wonderful dishes in your kitchen. Make them what you want.
SHORT CUT NOTE – to short cut this recipe when you just don’t have time to start with dried beans, use 3 – 15 ounces (425 gram) cans of organic Cannellini beans. Rinse and drain first, then use.
Other Helpful Links
These beans go great with Grilled Lemon Mint Chicken
Fold in some Roast Baby Tomatoes with Thyme for wonderful flavor and color