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Beans are underrepresented in the food world. When cooked well, they become creamy on the inside with just a slight bite on the skin. With the correct seasoning, they carry such amazing flavor. In my opinion, they’re one of the most economical pantry goods that offers a great amount of protein and healthy carbohydrates.
I love beans because I love how versatile they are! They can be blended into dips, incorporated as a picnic staple, or used as a stand-alone dish.
Dried beans are always the best pick for flavor and texture. And why is that? Dried beans allow the cook to control how long they are cooked and bring out just the right texture and flavor.
What is a giant white bean?
Giant white beans (also called Greek white beans) were originally called Gigantes, which is the Greek word for giant. Not surprisingly, the beans are native to Greece and the Mediterranean area. They possess a lot of natural fiber and protein and were often used in various mezze (small plate) dishes. They’re similar to a large lima bean only larger with an extra creamy interior.
Why use dried beans?
Traditionally, beans were always dried as a way to preserve them for long-term storage and use. The ones we buy in cans at grocery stores have been cooked at such high temperatures that most of the nutrients and flavor are gone. It’s sad, I know.
Dried beans allow for the ability to cook them in a certain method but also have so many more varieties to choose from. When you go to the canned food aisle, there are standard beans that can be found in any store. Alternatively, dried beans from online retailers have numerous heirloom varieties, such as Giant White beans. I’ll warn you: once you start cooking with dried beans, it’s hard to go back.
Why does this work as a salad?
A salad is a vegetable-heavy dish that’s seasoned with oil and vinegar, often served cold. Beans are not a vegetable, but a legume since they’re a seed. This salad uses the beans as a base but coats them with a dressing/marinade composed of herbs. Arugula is mixed in at the end for a fresh, crunchy, peppery flavor.
This can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. Take your pick! It’s the perfect salad.
Watch how to make this white bean salad
Garlic & Herb White Bean Salad
- 14 oz dried giant Greek white beans
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 10 leaves sage separated
- 8 fresh bay leaves separated
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 small red onion sliced
- ¾ tsp chili flakes
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 small zucchini sliced in thin strips with a vegetable peeler
- 4 oz arugula
- 4 oz fresh Parmesan shards
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a large bowl, cover the dried beans with 4 inches of water. Cover and soak in the refrigerator overnight, about 8 hours. After they are soaked, drain the beans and add them to a large stockpot with 6 cups water, 1 sprig of rosemary, 5 sage leaves, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a slow boil and cook until the beans are tender and creamy on the inside, 60-90 minutes.
- Once the beans are almost finished cooking, in a large skillet heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, chili flakes, salt, pepper, remaining rosemary, remaining bay leaves, remaining sage, and garlic. Cook until the onion is softened, 5 minutes.
- When ready, drain the beans, discard the herbs, and add the beans to the olive oil. Stir and coat the beans in the oil mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- To the slightly cooled beans, add the ribbons of zucchini, arugula, and Parmesan. Stir and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan on top.