Canned beans are a miracle of convenience. But their texture, as we know, can be hit or miss. Enter: this couldn’t-be-simpler trick for bringing out their best sides—golden, frizzled edges and molten middles. Scatter them on buttered noodles, garlicky greens, and fried eggs—but first, this springy and unconventional salad.
As Allison Arevalo writes in her book Pasta Friday, “The roasted beans here make an appearance in many of the recipes, and that’s because I eat them. All. The. Time. I eat them with pasta, with bread, with a spoon, and my picky children eat them, too, so they’re on a steady rotation at my house.
“This method works great with chickpeas, corona beans, nearly any beans. The trick is to get the beans dry. The drier they are, the crispier they get. Leave out the anchovies if you must, but I urge you to give them a try if you're on the fence! Just buy the good anchovies from Italy or Spain (I love the brands Ortiz and Anzienda ISAI). The cheap ones are like a salty punch in the face and are what give anchovies a bad name.”
What’s more, she wrote in an email: “You can easily make them on the stovetop, too, instead of the oven. Add the olive oil to a cast iron pan and sauté the rinsed and dried beans with some salt. Don’t stir them around too much, and let them get a nice golden crust.” Allison makes these beans at least twice a week, tossing the crispy beans with fettuccine and butter for her kids’ all-time favorite meal. She also loves them smashed on toast with olive oil.
And a few final tips: Brands of canned beans will vary in texture, but all will be improved by this technique. Allison likes Goya because they’re firmer and don’t fall apart as easily, but they will take a bit longer to crisp up. Try adding dried spices to the beans as they roast—Allison suggests smoked paprika, or other types of pepper like marash. And check out Heidi Swanson’s Pan-Fried Beans With Kale on Food52 for more seasoning ideas.
Recipe adapted slightly from The Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let's Eat Together (Andrews McMeel Publishing, September 2019).
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- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
(15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
shaved Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
chopped fresh mint
(1.6-ounce) can anchovies, drained, fillets rolled into little spirals (optional but recommended)
Flaky sea salt
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with towels, and spread the beans out to dry while the oven is heating.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the asparagus and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and quickly plunge the asparagus into an ice bath to cool. Cut lengthwise into 2-inch pieces.
- Remove the towels and keep the beans on the baking sheet. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the beans, season with 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and toss to fully coat. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove and cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, place the arugula, asparagus, cheese, mint, and beans. Right before serving, slowly drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and gently toss. Add a little more olive oil if it looks dry.
- Spread the salad on a large platter and scatter around the anchovies. Garnish with flaky sea salt.