Have you ever opened a restaurant menu and been so overwhelmed by the amazing choices that you just threw your hands up and said, “fuck it, we’ll take one of everything!” Which is a totally rational suggestion, because if you only order one or two dishes there’s a slew of reasons why you might never get the chance to order the others at some later date: menus change, restaurants close, and in San Francisco there are just too many fantastic places to eat and going to the same place twice within a single year is rare. And while you’re thinking you’ve developed a sound argument for ordering the entire menu, you notice the disapproving stare from your significant other across the table essentially calling you an overindulgent fatty, which is only compounded by the waiter’s raised eyebrows, because he thinks your ridiculous outburst is a sign of Tourettes. So you compromise and figure ordering everything on the left side of the menu will suffice. Ring any bells?
Well if you’re guilty of stuffing your pie-hole like me, then you’ll need a healthy go-to dish for those mornings after a night of excessive mastication. Thankfully, I’ve been developing this cannellini bean salad for just that reason. I’ve been trying to recreate this gigante bean dish I had on a trip to Florence Italy back in 2003 and it’s perfect for dinner parties. For years I’ve been adding and subtracting spices, herbs, and quantities of ingredients in an attempt to get it just right. And finally this last week when I made it for a Spanish themed dinner party with friends, I add hearts of palm and some sunflower oil-soaked marcona almonds and think it’s perfect!
Not only is this salad delicious, elegant, sophisticated, and easy to make, but you can eat an entire bowl guilt-free!
This is a an old “test” version I made, before adding the marcona almonds and hearts of palm. Trust me, the newer version (recipe below) is a crowd pleaser.
Cannellini Bean & Hearts of Palm Salad
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- ½ medium red onion finely diced
- 5 stalks of celery sliced into half moons
- one 15 oz can of hearts of palm
- two 15 oz cans of cannellini beans
- 1/3 cup of jarred roasted piquillo peppers roughly chopped
- 2 cups of marcona almonds
- 1 tsp smoked ground paprika
for the dressing:
- 1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tblsp grated lemon zest
- ½ tblsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tblsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tblsp champagne vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tblsp agave nectar
- ¼ tsp ground Quatre Espices spice mix
- ¼ cup fruity and delicious olive oil
In a large mixing bowl combine all the fresh herbs, onion, celery, and peppers. Rinse the cans of cannellini beans under cold water to remove some of the excess pasty starch and add them to the mixing bowl. Drain the hearts of palm and roughly chop them and add them to the mixing bowl too and set aside. There’s no need to mix anything at this point and you don’t want to risk breaking all the beans up and turning them into mush.
In a smaller mixing bowl whisk all the dressing ingredients, adding the olive oil slowly at the end so you can get everything to emulsify. Pour the dressing mixture over the large mixing bowl and gently mix everything together using something that isn’t too abrasive like a rubber spatula.
Let the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. When you’re ready to serve, mix the marcona almonds into the salad and sprinkle the top with paprika.
- if you don’t have Quatre Espices spice blend, consider using a combination of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground cumin…..you don’t want these flavors to overpower the salad, so you’ll want a total of 1/4 tsp of the spice combo in total.
- If you want to use dried cannellini beans you are more than welcome to, but I’ve learned from experience, that it’s not really worth the effort (can take like 24 hours in total between soaking and cooking the beans).