Cannellini Bean Salad With Shaved Spring Vegetables

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I am thrilled that David Tanis now has a weekly column in the New York Times food section. I am a big fan of both of his cookbooks The Heart of the Artichoke and A Platter of Figs, and his recipes are the kind of food I want to cook (and eat) daily. I like that the new column is focused on cooking in a small kitchen, though I have never not made a recipe because my kitchen was too small. In fact, I can't imagine how having a larger kitchen would change my cooking habits, but who knows, I've never had a large kitchen.

Last night I cooked a variation on Tanis's first recipe for the Times: Cannellini Bean Salad With Shaved Spring Vegetable. I was prepared to follow his recipe to the letter, but it didn't work out that way. First, I forgot to get a bulb of fennel when I was at the market (and I was too lazy to go back). And second, I just couldn't bring myself to mandolin the vegetables. I own a mandolin, and on rare occasion I have actually used it, but frankly, I hate the thing. I don't know why I detest the mandolin so much, and I recognize that it is, in fact, the best way to get thin even slices of vegetables.

So, instead of carefully mandolining the veggies, I sliced the radishes as thinly as I could and I chopped the asparagus into 1-inch pieces and blanched them for about two minutes in hot water, figuring that they would taste a little better that way. Also, I used a whole bunch of asparagus, since I'd forgotten to get the fennel. The salad was delicious, and the vinaigrette had a wonderful, complex flavor with the anchovies and fennel seed. We served it with pan seared arctic char and a simple salad of baby arugula that I tossed with the remainder of the dressing. I'll include Tanis's recipe as he wrote it, but feel free to adjust as you like -- I certainly did.

Cannellini Bean Salad With Shaved Spring Vegetables
From The New York Times

3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as needed
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
4 to 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups cooked cannellini beans, drained
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
6 to 8 large, fat asparagus spears, snapped and peeled
6 radishes
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed
1 small sweet spring onion, or a few scallions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley, basil or dill, for garnish

1. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
2. To assemble the salad, place the beans in a large bowl. Pour half the vinaigrette over the beans and toss lightly. Season with salt, pepper and
red pepper flakes.
3. Using a sharp mandolin — and a hand guard — carefully slice the asparagus spears lengthwise to about the thickness of a penny. Slice the radishes and fennel to the same thickness. Lay the shaved vegetables and chopped onion or scallions in a shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and dress them very lightly with a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette, turning gently to coat.
4. Spoon the beans onto a serving platter or individual plates, then cover the beans with the shaved vegetables. Add a little more vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, basil or dill.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.


Liz Fenton said...

You should invite him to cook in your tiny kitchen and do some "foraging" at the Fort Greene farmers' market.

Laura Fenton said...

It's exciting, right?


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