After a bike ride in the sun, all I want is citrus, but I’m usually famished, too. It’s easy to skip protein in summer when fresh fruit is abundant, and lemonade is flowing. That’s why I love this white bean salad. It’s so refreshing straight from the fridge, and it’s not anything like the Midwestern bean salads you may have had in the past. Be sure to have it with a slice of toast or a baguette to make a complete protein with the beans. Not only will you feel refreshed, but you’ll have energy, too.
1 pound (about 2 cups) dried cannellini beans
4 garlic cloves (1 whole, 3 sliced)
1 sprig fresh sage
3 celery stalks ( 1 whole, 2 chopped)
1/2 red onion, julienned
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large lemons
salt and pepper to taste
Leaves from 1 bunch parsley
Combine the beans, one whole garlic clove and the sage in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.
The next day, discard the garlic and sage, drain and rinse the beans. Place the beans in a large pot, cover with fresh water and add the whole celery stalk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are al dente, from 30-40 minutes. (Don’t let them turn mushy.) Drain the beans, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the celery. Let the beans cool to room temperature.
Combine the sliced garlic, the onion and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl. Squeeze the juice from 1 1/2 of the lemons over the top and season with salt and pepper. Whisk lightly until emulsified. Add the beans, chopped celery, parsley and reserved cooking liquid. Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. (Be sure to refrigerate if you plan to let it sit longer than an hour.) Season with more freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.
Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges from the remaining lemon half. Remember that beans absorb salt, causing the flavor to disappear after a day. Be sure to taste and re-salt leftovers as needed to brighten the taste. You may want to add a little more lemon juice after day, but I find that the flavors of this salad just get better with time.
Based on Cannellini all’Insalata from “The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.”