This past Saturday, I made white beans meaning for it to accompany a festive dish of carne asada, but it still needed some extra time on the stove. Even while we were wrapping up our dinner of beef tacos and guacamole, the beans were still gently simmering away, reminding me that it too was among the many things in life that should not be rushed. The beans can't wait for you so you must wait for the beans. Fortunately beans make a great leftover. Warm beans are so versatile and do such a wonderful job of absorbing flavors that it can be recreated more times over.
So for dinner this evening, I pulled out the cooked beans, a leek, a bundle of swiss chard and a few slices of bacon and made a wonderfully warm, comforting and tasty bean salad. This recipe is very flexible to what you have on hand, I used leeks for a more subtle, refined and sweet flavor, but you may also use a small onion. I drizzled with truffle oil for an earthy and savory flavor, but you may prefer to use olive oil. I used apple cider vinegar, you may prefer balsamic vinegar. I say tomatoes, you say tomatoes. You get the idea.Whatever you do, stick with bacon as my girl Paula Deen will tell you, "It is a good source of protein, ya'll!"
WHITE BEAN SALAD
- 3 thick-cut bacon slices
- 1 leek (white part only) or small onion
- 1 bunch swiss chard or beet tops
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons truffle or olive oil
- 4 cups white bean, cooked or 2 14-oz cans of white beans
- olive oil for drizzling
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- If you are using a leek, slice the leek crosswise and then lengthwise, in the same fashion as pictured above. Take care to rinse the leeks thoroughly over a bowl to expel any dirt. Dry off the leeks before thinly slicing and set aside. If you are using an onion, halve the bulb before thinly slicing.
- For the swiss chard or beet tops, rinse thoroughly and chop off the stems. Discard or cut off stems that appear too mature or fibrous. Dice the stems and set aside. With the greens, cut into 1-inch slices across the leaves, and set aside.
- In a medium to large saute pan, fry the bacon slices flat in the pan. Once browned, set the bacon aside flat on a plate. While the bacon fat is still hot, add the leek or onion slices and saute until they become tender. Toss in the diced swiss chard stems, and continue sauteing until they soften. Add the swiss chard leaves and continue sauteing until the greens have wilted. Add the apple cider vinegar to brighten up the flavors and enable you to easily scrape up the delicious brown bits on the pan's surface. Turn back the heat to medium-low. Gently fold in the drained white beans. Once warmed, beans do a beautiful job of absorbing flavors. Drizzle in two tablespoons of truffle or olive oil. Finish with another tablespoon or two of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold again. Turn off the heat and rest for at least 15 minutes to allow the beans to fully absorb the flavors.
- Immediately before serving, cut the bacon slices into 1-inch pieces. Plate the beans and top with the crispy bacon pieces.