Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Borlotti Bean Salad

My husband has this habit of buying mystery fruit and vegetables. When he brings these unknown items home, we have a conversation that goes something like this:

Me: What's this?
Him: It's a bean (or fruit or something equally obvious and unhelpful.)
Me: Well, what kind of bean?
Him: I'm not sure (or "I forgot.")
Me: So, what are you going to do with it?
Him: I don't know.

Yesterday he picked up a bunch of fresh, shelled, what-turned-out-to-be Borlotti beans. These tannish beans with pink splotches, about the size of kidney beans, are sometimes called cranberry beans. They're popular in Italy and Portugal, and no wonder -- their nutty flavor is delicious.

After finding out how long Borlotti beans need to cook, I came up with this salad recipe that includes roasted cherry tomatoes (the first big batch from my garden), sundried tomatoes, and a red wine vinaigrette with pesto. There was only one problem: I didn't make enough. This totally tasty recipe can easily be doubled.

For roasted cherry tomatoes:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. In medium bowl, mix tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet or pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 45 minutes, then set aside and let cool.

For Borlotti beans:
2 cups fresh, shelled Borlotti beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Salt, to taste

Over medium-low heat, cook sliced garlic and olive oil until garlic is fragrant, about a minute, Stir in Borlotti beans to coat in oil. Add water and pepper and simmer, covered, until beans are soft but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, salt to taste. Using slotted spoon, transfer beans into large bowl and cool.
For the salad:
Roasted cherry tomatoes
Cooked Borlotti beans
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Red wine vinaigrette, to taste (recipe below)

In bowl with beans, add roasted tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, chopped basil and enough vinaigrette to coat (or to taste, I probably used less than half amount below.) Toss well and serve. Adjust seasonings.
For red wine vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 generous tablespoon pesto

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil and then the pesto.

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