I joined an heirloom bean CSA this winter, so I've been busy coming up with bean recipes. These green flageolet have a delicate flavor that works well in salads. One could also use small white kidney beans. I usually cook 2 cups of dried beans and reserve them for multiple uses (these fennel infused beans are also delicious in a tunafish salad). A note on cooking dried beans: I've had good results with cooking them, without any pre-soaking, on low in a slow cooker. This allows the beans to gently plump and soften. Cooked on the stovetop, they will require less time and more water. - Fairmount_market —Fairmount_market
Test Kitchen Notes
A delicately flavored salad whose various components come together effortlessly with Fairmount_market's excellent directions. The warm, crisp tapenade toasts are an extra inviting way to crown the dish. If you're cooking your beans on the stovetop, be sure they're supplied with enough water to stay covered as they simmer -- I added about four cups to mine and they took just over an hour to go from dry to perfectly tender. —Kristen Miglore
dried green flageolet beans, or substitute white kidney beans
Rinse the beans and put them in a slow cooker or a pot with 4 cups of water. Rinse the fennel bulb and cut off the stalks. Reserve the bulb and a handful of the most tender fronds. Layer the remaining stalks and fronds over the beans. Simmer the beans on low for about 3 hours, swirling occasionally to mix, until they are tender but still firm (on the stovetop this may take less time and require additional water). Remove the fennel stalks and season generously with salt. Drain 2 cups of the cooked beans for the salad and reserve the remaining beans for another use.
Prepare the tapenade. Heat the garlic clove in a dry, hot skillet, until it is blacked in patches on the outside and soft and fragrant. In a food processor, combine the olives, capers, garlic clove, reserved fennel fronds, parsley, 1 tsp of zest from both the lemon and orange, red pepper flakes, and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Pulse briefly into a coarse, chunky paste.
Prepare the bean salad. Cut the fennel bulb into thin slices. Peel the orange, slice, and quarter each slice. In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked beans, fennel and orange slices and mix well. Adjust seasoning.
Prepare the toasts. Turn on broiler. Cut 8 slices from the baguette and spread generously with tapenade. In a large oven-proof pan, such as a cast iron skillet, heat a thin film of olive oil. Place the toasts in the pan and heat for about a minute until they start to smell toasted. Place the pan under the broiler and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the toasts have started to crisp around the edges, but remove them before they start to burn.
Prepare the salad. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss in the salad greens until well coated. Divide the dressed greens on 4 plates, layer on the bean salad, and top with tapenade toasts.
To serve at a picnic, prepare separate containers of the bean salad, the toasts, the undressed greens (in a container with a lid), and the dressing. At the picnic, pour the dressing over the greens, put back on the lid and give them a good shake, then plate the greens and top with the beans and toasts.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.