This recipe is inspired by a salad at Franny’s in Brooklyn. It’s 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. —Amanda Hesser
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.
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.
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!
Heat the broiler. Arrange the pancetta on a baking sheet. Broil until crisp.
Spoon the bean salad onto a wide, shallow serving dish. Top with the pancetta and sprinkle with a little more olive oil.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.