While I’ve made this salad with canned beans for a quick salad, it’s best starting with good quality dried beans. I order mine from Rancho Gordo. Soak your beans overnight and cook them the next day, or even a day ahead. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Try a variety of herbs you enjoy. Fresh dill, mint, and oregano are nice too.
Course Side Dish
Keyword salad, white bean
1/2pounddried Cannellini or Marcella beansor 3 cans of white beans, see note at end
1-2tablespoonfreshly chopped herbsoregano, dill, mint, or rosemary
3tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil
2tablespoonfresh squeezed lemon juiceadd zest for more lemon flavor
1-2largegarlic clovesvery finely chopped
¼teaspoonground black pepper
Begin by soaking beans overnight. Pick through the beans for any broken pieces or debris and discard. Choose a container large enough to hold beans and water to cover by about three inches. Beans expand while soaking. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If using canned beans, rinse and drain beans in a colander or sieve and see notes below for finishing.
In the morning, drain soaking water from beans. To cook beans, warm 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot. I use a 5 ½ quart Dutch oven. Turn heat down a little and add celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the pot and cook until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Turn down the heat if necessary.
Add fresh water to cover beans by a about 2 inches. Add the bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Cover the beans and simmer gently for approximately 2-3 hours. Timing varies with the freshness of the beans. Check the beans occasionally to make sure they are covered by water. If water is low, add a little from a hot tea kettle. Beans are done when they are soft and tender to the bite. When beans are almost there, add salt and pepper to season. When beans are done, gently strain off the water and allow the beans to cool. Beans can be refrigerated covered at this point for a day or two, or continue with the recipe.
To finish the salad, make the vinaigrette dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the oil. lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the beans and mix gently. Add the herbs and feta. At serving time, taste the beans and add additional salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with a little extra good olive oil if desired. Fresh lemon zest is a nice garnish too.
To use canned beans, buy 3-15 ounce cans of cannellini beans, great northern or navy beans. Rinse, drain and continue with the vinaigrette to finish. Instead of cooking the carrots and celery, you can skip them for simplicity sake or chop them and add them raw.This is a versatile recipe. Make it your own by adding halved grapeseed tomatoes; fresh, roasted or sun-dried.
Recipe from Chef Sally Cameron of AFoodCentricLife.com