My go-to way of cooking beans for lo these many decades has always been in the form of a stew or braise—be it a curry of some kind (like so, so, so, so, so, so or so, to take just a few examples) or in a non-Indian style (like so). This changed at the end of last year when I cooked up a pot of Rancho Gordo flageolets and used them as a base for grilled pork and poached fish. This acted as a gateway drug of sorts and I”ve been preparing beans more in this style. The recipe I have for you today takes it to the logical conclusion: the beans becoming not the base for something more flavourful placed atop them but the main story in and of themselves. I first made this salad for the New Year’s Eve dinner we shared with the friends we have been podding with (please forgive the unintentional pun) and have since made a few variations. Here’s the “original”.
As always, I use and recommend Rancho Gordo beans. If you don’t have any you could use whatever you have to hand but outcomes may vary. This style of salad is particularly good with Rancho Gordo’s large white limas but any mild bean that holds its shape well will do.
For the beans
- 1 lb Rancho Gordo large white lima beans or similar
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tspn or so of salt
- 2 tblspns olive oil
For the dressing
- 2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, cut into smaller pieces (I use the ones from the big Costco jars)
- 1 fat garlic clove (about a tspn’s worth)
- 2-3 anchovies, rinsed
- 4-5 tblspns of olive oil
- 1-1.5 tblspns Rancho Gordo pineapple vinegar, or apple cider vinegar or similar
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- Cover the beans with 2-3 inches of water in your bean pot of choice and bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes or so.
- While the beans are boiling, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet and add the minced onion.
- Saute till softened but not yet browned.
- Add the sauteed onions and bay leaf to the bean pot, reduce the heat, cover and cook at a high simmer till the beans are done. Replenish the water as needed along the way to cover by an inch or two.
- When the beans begin to soften, add the salt.
- Drain the beans and place in the platter in which you will serve them.
Dressing the beans
- Heat 1 tblspn of olive oil over medium heat and add the artichoke hearts.
- Saute for 5 minutes or so, till just beginning to brown.
- Add the artichoke hearts to the beans in the platter and mix in.
- Mash the garlic and anchovies together with a mortar and pestle and put them in a small jar.
- Add the remaining olive oil and vinegar to the jar, cap and shake vigorously till emulsified.
- Add the contents of the jar to the beans as well and mix in.
- Taste and add salt if needed.
- Crush the dried chilli and the oregano with your fingers and sprinkle over.
- Let sit for at least an hour before serving.
- You don’t need to prepare the dressing and have it on hand to toss with the beans as soon as they’re cooked. You want the beans to cool to a little lukewarm before adding the dressing.
- I like to use Rancho Gordo’s pineapple vinegar for these kinds of salads but a good apple cider vinegar will do as well. I would advise against using balsamic or any other sweet vinegar, dark or otherwise.
- You can of course use chopped fresh parsley or oregano in place of the dried. I do like the Rancho Gordo oregano indio for this, however.
- This would work very well as a side dish with a roast or lasagna but also very well as the headliner in its own right. And you can also spoon it over a slice of toast.
- I’ve made a variation with cauliflower in place of the artichoke heart. It comes out very well too—I break the cauliflower up into very small florets and saute them till quite nicely browned.