Green Bean Salad with Currants, Cannellinis and Pancetta-Balsamic Vinaigrette
July 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
When plump, at-peak green beans finally hit the markets, it is an exciting thing. These in-season beauties have a much more desirable texture and flavor than the year-round imports, but it is their appearance that really gets me excited. The smooth, tightly supple skins give way to generous looking beans; you can see the season so clearly.
Interestingly, this recipe was meant to showcase a different seasonal items that I am loving right now. New Potatoes. Like many things, we often don’t think of potatoes as having a season. But they do, and the tiny baby potatoes with exceedingly creamy flesh being harvested now are so much tastier than what you will find in the winter. Those potatoes that aren’t harvested now can feed us through the winter, sure. But if you look, so many varieties of heirloom baby potatoes are available right now and they offer a variety of flavors and texture. Personally, I would rather just eat these now and save many of the root veggies for winter (letting them sweeten underground).
However, there are no potatoes in this recipe, because I keep using them in a much simpler way before I can get to this recipe. After work one day, I roasted all that I had with just a bit oil, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt & pepper and served fried eggs over them. It was meant to be an effortless dinner after a hard day, but it ended up being more satisfying than you can imagine. The next day, after picking up more potatoes, all I wanted was yolky roasted potatoes again, so that was what I had.
Here, I replaced the potatoes with cannellini beans in what was meant to be a vinegar dressed potato salad, and actually ended up with another very satisfying dinner. It is quite simple too: the dried beans are soaked and then cooked a big pot of water. Once the beans are tender, you add the green beans with a big pinch of salt and cook for just a couple additional minutes. The pancetta is completely unnecessary if you’re meatless, but I absolutely love it. The currants were kind of an after-thought but I thought they were a wonderful contrast to the crispy, salty pancetta.
Green Bean Salad with Currants, Cannellinis and Pancetta-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
serves 2 (as a meal)
– 6 oz dried cannellini beans, soaked 5-8 hours
– 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into lardons
– 1 lb green beans, stems removed (you may also want to cut them into smaller piece for ease when eating)
– 1/3 cup dried currants
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbsp honey
– 1 tbsp dijon mustard
– salt & pepper
After soaking the beans, generously cover them with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, approximately 45 minutes.
When the beans are close, cook the pancetta. Heat a lightly greased pan and add the pieces of pancetta. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once crispy all over, use a slotted spoon to move the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate to drain excess grease. Measure out 2 tbsp of the grease leftover in the skillet and whisk it into the vinegar, honey, dijon, salt & pepper (if you are going without pancetta, simply use olive oil to make the vinaigrette).
Once the beans are tender, toss the green beans into the cooking liquid with a big pinch of salt and blanche until tender – 2-3 minutes. Place the currants at the bottom of a strainer, and strain the beans/green beans over the currants (this allow the currants to slightly re-hydrate to avoid absorbing too much of the vinaigrette). Return the strained ingredients to the pot they cooked in and add cooked pancetta. Toss all ingredients with the vinaigrette and serve.