Monday, March 19, 2012

Cannellini Bean Salad

Last week I made a big pot of cannellini beans with the intent of making a stew for dinner ... then, we went out to eat. I drained the cooked beans and put them in the refrigerator overnight. When I took them out, they looked like salad material. Cannellini beans are also called white kidney beans. If you can't find them, any kind of white bean will work, think navy beans or small white beans. This salad features fresh lemon as well as beans, mostly because my lemon tree is loaded with lemons. This time of year everything at my house has lemon. If fresh lemons aren't available to you, just use lemon juice. Pepperdaw peppers can be found in the olive section, either with fresh olives, or canned. Feel free to substitute red or yellow peppers instead. I've used fresh thyme, but feel free to use whatever herb you have on hand. I think rosemary would taste equally well. If you don't have fresh herbs, use dried. Try whole thyme, parsley, or sage. Dried herbs usually aren't as potent as fresh herbs, so you might need more. Start out with the suggested amount, taste, then add more if you like. As you can see, substitutions can be made almost everywhere!


1-1/2 cups cooked and drained cannellini beans (or one can)
4 slices bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp minced garlic
4 chopped pepperdaw peppers, or 1/2 red or yellow pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs honey lemon salad dressing
several grinds of sea salt
slices of lemon for garnish

If using dried cannellini beans, cook them by covering with 4 cups of water. Bring them to a boil, letting them boil for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for about 1 hour. Drain the beans, add a fresh 4 cups of water, and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes to one hour. Taste several beans to make sure they're tender, as beans don't always cook at the same rate. Some beans will get tender before others. Drain the cooked beans.

If using canned beans, drain them, then rinse with water to remove some of the sodium. Place drained beans in a bowl.

Cook the bacon, then drain it on paper towels. Wrap the bacon in the towels, pressing to remove the bacon grease.  Crumble or chop the bacon into bite size pieces. Place the chopped onion, along with the minced garlic, in a microwave safe dish (I usually use a glass measuring cup) and cook in the microwave for 1 minute.

Add the bacon, onion, chopped peppers, and fresh thyme to the beans. Add the lemon juice and zest, thyme leave, and salad dressing to the beans, then mix well. Taste the bean salad, then add salt if necessary. Garnish with the lemon slices.

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish or side salad

Stealthy Cooking Tip: You probably won't need salt if you use canned beans. Most canned beans, even the low sodium variety, have plenty of salt added to them. While rinsing canned beans removes some of the salt, you'll most likely still have plenty of flavor.

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