I love to serve pale beans like cannellini or baby white limas as a warm salad, dressed with an emulsion of rosemary-and-thyme-infused olive oil, a little of their cooking liquid, and olives. Lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley and basil add another layer of summery flavor. The beans make a delicious accompaniment to grilled or roasted lamb, chicken, and seafood, or a light meal unto themselves with some shaved goat cheese or ricotta salata or cooked shrimp. I often make this recipe with pale green dried flageolets; their pea-like flavor reminds me of fresh shell beans.
3 cups drained cooked white beans, such as cannelloni, navy, baby white limas, or flageolets; (reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid) or canned beans, drained and rinsed well
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Scant 1/3 cup bean cooking liquid, unsalted homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water
1/2 cup black olives, such as Kalamata or Gaeta, pitted and chopped, or green olives, such as a picholine or Barese, if using flageolets
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into 1/2- to 1/4-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the beans in a medium nonstick skillet and set aside.
2. To make the dressing, in a small skillet, combine the olive oil and garlic over low heat, cover and cook until the garlic is soft, about 3 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderate, and add the rosemary and thyme. Cook until the herbs begin to sizzle and little bubbles dance around them; do not let the garlic brown. Add the bean cooking liquid and olives, increase the heat to high, and boil for 30 seconds.
3. Scatter the parsley and basil over the beans and pour over the dressing, tossing to coat. Place the beans over high heat and toss frequently until they are hot and have absorbed most of the dressing. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
In Advance: You can cook the dried beans up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. You can sizzle the garlic and herbs in the oil up to 4 hours ahead; let sit at room temperature until you are ready to finish the dressing. Although the salad is best served warm, you can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 2 days.
Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider.
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