Yesterday I said that beef-loving Mama is going to do her part for the environment (and her waistline) by eating less meat… so here we go!
Wait a sec… the smell of grilling burgers is wafting over the fence. This is going to be tougher than I thought.
Tonight’s protein player is cannellini beans. I love these small, white kidney-shaped bits of joy because they have a wonderfully subtle nutty, earthy flavor. I know you’ve seen cannellini beans before because they usually show up in minestrone soup or in those 10-bean salads which invariably grace the table of a potluck dinner.
Cannellini beans are a lot like Great Northern beans, but with a much thinner skin (reminds me of some people I know). Their texture is creamy, but they hold their shape really well (if you don’t cook them too long!).
I didn’t use canned beans with this recipe because my pal, LK, sent me a gift box of Rancho Gordo beans for my birthday. I’ll be honest with you, I would have just gone to my local supermarket and bought some dried cannellini beans, but after cooking up a batch of these, I’m hooked.
A lot of people think you have to soak beans overnight. You don’t. Soaking does speed up the process, but only marginally. If you use a pressure cooker, beans cook up really fast… like 30 minutes fast… so be carefully or they’ll turn to mush. Cooking them on top of the stove is as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Place the washed and cleaned beans in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam.
2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Drain. Cool. You’re ready to go.
Beans are low in fat and loaded with nutrients so you can’t go wrong… now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to hook up a fan to my fence and push that burger aroma in another direction!
Italian White Bean Salad
Prep: 15 minutes (once the beans are cooked)
4 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
½ chopped red onion
¼ cup finely chopped basil
let’s get to it…
Place the beans into a bowl with a tight-fitting re-sealable lid or a large re-sealable plastic bag; set aside.
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) together in a small bowl; stir in the red onion and basil.
Pour the olive oil mixture over the beans; place the re-sealable lid on the bowl or tightly seal the bag. Gently turn the bowl or bag to mix the ingredients. Serve immediately or marinate for a few hours for outstanding flavor!
cooking know how…
• One pound of dried beans equals about 4 to 5 cups cooked beans.
• Got a cup or so of leftover beans? Make a delicious dip by pouring the beans into the blender and adding a couple of anchovies or capers.