Thursday, April 19, 2012

White Beans and Arugula

This recipe was a salad recipe. And it had roasted red bell peppers in it, but I thought sun-dried tomatoes would be nice. And it called for arugula, but I couldn’t get any arugula (and the arugula I planted hasn’t grown enough yet). And I got some spinach and chard to try instead. And I thought maybe it would be interesting as a warm dish with cooked greens. But then I thought it would be better as a salad after all. And then I found some beautiful baby arugula. And then it got cold and rainy and windy and nasty outside and I thought it would be best to make this a warmer, cozier dish.

That’s pretty typical of the way things go in my kitchen (and in my head), the way a recipe goes from an original source through the gauntlet of my mind and the markets I frequent and the weather. In the end, this was a really nice, rather simple vegetarian dish of beans with wilted arugula and thick strips of tangy-sweet sun-dried tomatoes. Sometimes dishes based on beans or grains or both can be a little bland, really more suited to accompany a savory, flavorful main dish, but I firmly believe that the little bit of vinaigrette that was meant to dress this as a salad made a big difference in boosting the flavor of this one. Of course the peppery, bitter arugula and the tomatoes, plus the onions and garlic were no slouches in the flavor department, either.

Of course, when it gets warm again, I’m convinced I will be enjoying this as a salad. I just won’t wilt the arugula, or whatever greens I can get a hold of. I could also try the roasted peppers of the original recipe, or use fresh tomatoes. Really, there’s a lot that could be added to this and a lot of ways to go with the flavors: artichokes, fresh herbs, feta or Parmesan cheese. Dishes like this represent a method that can be applied in whatever direction the cook desires. Hey, wait, this dish represents two methods, a warm bean dish with wilted greens and cold bean salad with fresh greens. And then…well, enough of my stream of consciousness. You’ve got things to do.

White Beans with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Based on a recipe (for a salad) in Cooking Light magazine

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon coarse salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup finely-chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
4 cups arugula, chopped if the leaves are large
1 ½ cups (about a 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed) cooked Navy beans (or other white beans)

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small, heatproof bowl. Pour at least ½ cup boiling water over them to completely cover. Let stand at least 15 minutes to soften the tomatoes. (If you use oil-packed tomatoes, you can skip this step, but you will need about ½ cup water later.) Remove the tomatoes and reserve the water. Chop the softened tomatoes into thin strips and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

3. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until the oil is shimmery and flows easily when the pan is tilted. Add the onion and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Saute 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is softened and begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more.

4. Add the arugula and about ¼ cup of the tomato soaking water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the arugula is well wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and about ¼ cup more of the tomato water. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

5. Remove from the heat. Pour the oil and vinegar dressing mixture over the beans and stir to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 main dish or 4 smaller side dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: Sloppy Beans and Tomatoes, Stewed Beans with Bacon and Caramelized Onions, White Beans with Sage and Garlic, White Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Rosemary

One year ago: Vanilla Ice Cream

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