Tuesday, March 23, 2010

White Beans with Squid, Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes

Recently I went to Le Pain Quotidien and fell in love with one of their tartines (open faced sandwiches on nice hearty wheat bread).  I actually really like quite a few things that Le Pain serves, but this tuna tartine special was delicious.  The tartine had a thin layer of hummus, topped with tuna and cannellini beans, then drizzled with freshly-made basil pesto.  Somehow the entire thing just sang spring to me.  I'm hooked.  So I went out and bought a bunch of basil and some tuna and a bag of dried beans to try it out.  And I downloaded a recipe for cannellini beans.  In the same shopping trip I picked up some calamari.  Then while looking for nice spring-appropriate calamari recipes, I stumbled across this recipe for White Beans with Squid, Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes, which featured the same recipe for Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Sage as one of the components of the recipe.  I love it when things just come together like that!  These beans are actually featured as a component of several delicious-sounding recipes on the Epicurious website.  As soon as I try all of them, I will have to let you know!  First up for tonight was the calamari, then maybe this recipe for Sausages with White Beans in Tomato Sauce.  Oh and I won't forget my version of the Le Pain tuna tartine either.  Don't you worry.

This salad was a nice light summer or spring time meal.  I served it with toasted baguette crostinis slathered in the nice soft garlic that I simmered with the white beans.  And then topped with sea salt.  The addition of the crostini honestly made the dish, so definitely don't throw that garlic away.  I also think this salad would be improved by the addition of some thinly shaved red onions, but that's just me.  I love onions.  Plus they would provide the salad with some bite, as well as the textural contrast of the onions.  I also think that the next time I make this salad, I might halve the amount of calamari and throw in some cooked shrimp, for the sake of variety.  I love playing with recipes.

Recipe after the jump!

White Beans with Squid, Arugula and Grape Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appetit
October 2009

1 pound cleaned squid, bodies and tentacles separated, then sliced into 1/2 inch wide rings
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups (packed) baby arugula (about 3 ounces)
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 cup cooked white beans (Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Sage), drained, room temperature
3 tbsp good quality evoo
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp evoo.  Once oil is hot, add squid to pan.  Add s&p.  Saute cleaned squid until barely opaque, 2-3 minutes.  Remove squid from pan and allow to cool 3-4 minutes.

Add baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, and beans to large serving bowl. Add cooled squid. In a separeate small bowl, mix evoo and lemon juice with 1 tsp kosher salt. Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss gently to blend, adding more lemon juice, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Sage
October 2009

1 pound dried cannellini (white kidney beans)
8 cups room-temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head of garlic, unpeeled, top 1/2 inch cut off to expose cloves
1 large fresh sage sprig
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Place beans in large bowl. Cover with cold water (at least 6 cups) and let soak overnight.

Drain beans. Place in heavy large pot. Add 8 cups room-temperature water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, sage, and black peppercorns. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Mix in 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Continue to simmer until beans are tender, adding more water if needed to keep beans covered, about 30 minutes longer. Cool beans in liquid 1 hour.

Using slotted spoon, transfer beans to serving bowl, reserving bean cooking liquid, if desired, but discarding sage, and peppercorns. Reserve garlic to bread on crostini. Season beans to taste with pepper and more coarse salt. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

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