Last week, I had big plans to write a post about a bean salad I had at Franny's. But then I overcooked the beans for the photo shoot and forgot to add the crucial ingredient -- pancetta. To make matters worse, I missed my own deadline because I went to a party, drank too much Scotch (someone's watching too much Mad Men), and forgot to write my post. Where is my Peggy when I need her?!
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A week has passed. This time I got the beans right, and the pancetta just where I wanted it. And now, tail between my legs, I deliver to you last week's blog recipe, a new kind of bean salad -- one that's slicked with garlicky oil, kissed with vinegar, and crowned with a crisp pancetta chip. Use whatever kind of beans you like -- here, I went for borlotti, cannellini, green kidneys and controne. There's no soaking needed, not to mention very little effort. Just start the day before and do laundry while you simmer the beans (don't let them boil!). Then serve the beans however you like: as a lunch salad or a dinner party side dish. I like them at room temperature.
1. Place each type of dried bean in a separate saucepan (yes, this is the only annoying part of the recipe; if you'd prefer to do them together, time them according to size, adding the largest beans first and add the rest progressively so that they all finish cooking at once -- good luck!). Cover with at least 3 inches of water. Add 1 carrot (in pieces), 1 garlic clove and 2 sprigs thyme to each pan.
2. Bring to a gentle simmer -- the water should burp rather than bubble. Cook the beans until just tender but not at all mushy, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the bean. Drain, rinse under cool water, and let cool. Discard the carrot, garlic and thyme.
3. Mince the remaining garlic clove. In a large saucepan, briefly warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and cook for 1 minute, just to slightly warm the beans and disperse the garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Strip the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add them to the beans. Add vinegar to taste -- it should sharpen the flavors but nothing more. Taste and adjust the salt -- yes, again!
4. Heat the broiler. Arrange the pancetta on a baking sheet. Broil until crisp.
5. Spoon the bean salad onto a wide, shallow serving dish. Top with the pancetta and sprinkle with a little more olive oil.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).