White Bean Salad with Asparagus & Arugula

        From the blog For Love of the Table

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 to 1 t. fennel seed, toasted and finely crushed

1 clove garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt

1/2 c. olive oil

Salt & freshly ground pepper

 

For the salad:

3 c. cannellini beans, canned or cooked from dry (see note below)—rinse if using canned

1/2 c. finely diced red onion, well rinsed under cold running water

1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 T. chiffonade mint

16 to 20 Kalamata olives, halved (optional)

1 medium bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch lengths, then blanched and refreshed in cold water

4 or 5 handfuls arugula (or other favorite salad green)

1/3 c. toasted pistachios, chopped (optional)

 

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and garlic.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.   

 

To make the salad, place the drained and rinsed beans in a large bowl.  Add the onions, the herbs, olives (if using) and about half the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  At this point, the beans can be left to marinate for up to 30 minutes.

 

To finish the salad, place the arugula in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat and divide among four serving plates, spreading out to form a base for the rest of the salad.  Add the asparagus to the beans and gently toss to coat, adding more vinaigrette if necessary.  Divide the bean mixture among the plates, mounding in attractively on top of the greens.  If desired, sprinkle each salad with some of the chopped pistachios.

 

Serves 4

 

Notes:

  • To cook the beans from dried for a salad, soak them in water over night (to get three cups cooked, you will need to start with 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups dried).  Drain the soaked beans, rinse them and transfer to a shallow baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover the beans with boiling water by one inch.  Cover the pan with foil or a lid and transfer to a 325° oven.  Bake until the beans are tender all the way through, salting when they are half cooked.  This will take about 2 hours—depending on how fresh the dried beans are.  Cool and store (in the refrigerator) in their cooking liquid until ready to use.
  • You can serve this salad as is or as I did with some salmon (or other fish) cooked however you like.  To pan sear the salmon: heat a sauté pan (large enough to comfortably hold all of the fish) over medium-high heat.  While the pan is heating, season the fish on both sides with salt & pepper.  Add a thin film of oil to the pan.  When the oil is very hot, add the fish, skinned side up (if the fish is skinless....if serving with the skin, put the side with the skin down first).  Cook until nicely browned (or the skin is crisp if serving with the skin), regulating the heat as necessary to prevent smoking but at the same time, maintaining an active sizzle.  Turn and cook the fish, until barely opaque in the center (reducing the heat further, if necessary).  A good rule of thumb for cooking fish is to cook it 10 minutes total per inch of thickness.  If you like you may sear the first side, turn the fish over and then transfer the whole pan to a hot oven and finish cooking in the oven.  When the fish is cooked the way you like, remove it from the pan and keep warm. 
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