My favorite crop season…and season in general…is upon us. Fall. My husband plants all my favorite things this time of the year. Arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli, all the greens. Since we have an abundance of them in our garden, I’m always looking for new ways to use them.
Arugula is my favorite leafy green. It has such a distinct taste that it’s a great addition to most anything, in my opinion. Our arugula this season has been so full of spice and holds such a bold flavor that it can be used as an actual ingredient and not just a salad base.
My husband, knowing this is my favorite crop, tripled the amount he usually plants this year. With an overflow of this green, we were trying to think of other ways to use it. Then Blake mentioned it would make a great pesto. I then hopped in the car and made a grocery run.
Now, when I was thinking about what all we could use the pesto on, bread and pasta were what kept coming back to mind. Not wanting to make a giant pot of pasta that I will sit and eat ferociously, I remembered I had several cans of white beans I bought a while back to make a dish I never made. So, warm white bean arugula salad is what’s on the menu.
To me, this salad is the kind of food that you make when you do not want to cook and eat a whole meal, but you still need to feed yourself. However, it also makes a great side dish.
Now, I know canned beans are much easier to use than the dry ones. But, after making this salad I realized why the dry works better. Canned beans tend to mush and get very soft while heating which makes for a difficult consistency for a salad. So if you make this salad I would highly recommend just committing to the full two hours it takes to cook the dry beans. Wish I had. However, the taste is still great either way.
Now, what makes this salad next level is the pesto made with arugula, almonds, parmesan, and garlic. I also used 1/3 cup of olive oil, but if you are calorie conscious, feel free to substitute some of it for the beans own liquid.
Have leftovers? Put some on a piece of toast the next day. It’s great cold or warm.
For the beans:
• 1 cup Cannelini white beans, soaked overnight//Or 3 cans Cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed
For the Arugula-Almond Pesto:
• 2 cups arugula, rinsed and spin-dried
• 1/3 cup sliced almonds
• ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
• 3 cups arugula, rinsed and spin-dried
• 1 small red onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons slice almonds, as garnish (optional)
• a slice of bread, (optional)
1. To cook the beans, place them in a medium-size pot. Cover them with 2-inches of water. Add in the bay leaf and bring it to a simmer in medium-low heat. Cover and cook (stirring occasionally) until they are soft and tender, but not mushy, 1 ½ to 2 hours. When cooked, remove and discard the bay leaf and drain the beans. Place them in a large salad bowl.
2. To make the arugula almond pesto:Place the arugula, almonds, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until everything is finely chopped. While the machine is running, drizzle the olive oil over the tube slowly. Pour the pesto over the warm beans and give it a gentle mix making sure to not break the beans.
3. To assemble the salad: Add in the arugula and red onion into the beans mixture and give it a mix. Taste for seasoning and add in, if necessary.