During a visit to Le Pain Quotidien I ordered an unassuming bean salad. It was quite substantial, and the second the server placed it in front of me I pulled out my notebook to jot down the ingredients as I ate. It was simple but harmonious, and I couldn't help thinking that all that was missing from my early dinner was a large wooden porch overlooking the vineyards and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. So I recreate the experience all summer long and call it The Patio Salad, perfect for eating outdoors, ideally with a view. - cookingafterfive —nicolecooks
Test Kitchen Notes
This is wonderful! I never would have thought of adding croutons to a bean salad, but it’s a great idea. The crunch from them along with the arugala and scallions is terrific. The pesto is a great addition and really ties everything together. This would make a great potluck dish by doubling the recipe. We just loved it. - Helen's All Night Dinner —The Editors
Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl covered by at least 1 inch of water.
A few hours before you want to eat, drain beans, then add them to a large pot and cover with two inches of cold water. Chop the carrot and celery into three pieces each and add to the pot, along with the garlic and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until done, anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
When checking for doneness, test several beans at once, and if they are all tender they’re ready. Turn off the heat and add salt to taste. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes, then drain. (From here, beans can be left at room temperature if using for this meal, refrigerated, or frozen for another use.)
Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Slowly stream in olive oil until pesto is emulsified and thin enough to toss with the beans and bread. (This can be done in advance. Pour the pesto into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the plastic onto the surface of the pesto to help avoid discoloration. Store in the refrigerator until ready for use.)
Heat a grill pan to medium-low. Add a generous amount of olive oil and toss bread to coat. Cook until crisp and golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
Dress the salad: Dress the arugula lightly with olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and toss with your hands to combine.
The finishing touches: In a large bowl, combine beans (you may have enough to reserve some for later use, depending on how many people you are serving), pesto, tomato, green onion and bread cubes. Toss to combine. Test for seasonings and add salt and pepper, if needed. Plate alongside a handful of arugula and a few slices of prosciutto. Garnish with shards of Parmesan cheese. Serve with a glass of your favorite white wine.