Asparagus-White Bean Salad

by Anne Bennett on June 1, 2013

asparagus salad

When I want asparagus for dinner, I usually roast them in a hot oven or grill them outside. They become slightly charred and you can eat them with your fingers.  This recipe from Melissa Clark, which I saw yesterday in the New York Times, appealed to me right off the bat for several reasons.

First, it was a different spin on one of my favorite veggies. And second, when combined with beans it becomes almost a meal. At the very least, I wouldn’t need rice or pasta as a side dish because the beans provide substantial…heft, for lack of a better word.

This salad goes together quickly and, even better, doesn’t have to be eaten right away.  You can make it ahead or even take it to a picnic.

The original recipe called for double the amounts given here, but since there are just two humans at our dinner table (big poodles aren’t partial to either asparagus or beans, for which I am thankful), I halved most of the ingredients. If you can find a can of beans that’s larger than 15 ounces, use it instead. I had one that was 20 ounces. I used the amount of lemon juice in the larger recipe because I love the flavor of lemon and I found that it didn’t overpower the asparagus. If you’re not worried about Weight Watcher points, drizzle on more olive oil if you want.

One of the only herbs I didn’t plant this spring was tarragon. I’m certain that another fresh herb would work beautifully, but I used dried tarragon here. The combination of flavors was delightful and worked well with grilled chicken breasts. All in all, an unexpected treat. I mean, really, beans and asparagus? I wouldn’t have put the two together, but then, that’s why I’m not a cookbook author at the New York Times.

1 (15 to 20-oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed*
1/2 lb. asparagus
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves (or 1 t. dried)
1 t. grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil

*Great Northern or cannellini beans. Choose your poison.

Break off tough ends from asparagus. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for exactly 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water to stop cooking. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain again. Pat dry and slice into 1/2-inch pieces.

Combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1/2 t. salt and a few grindings of pepper in a food processor and process until the garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil and process until mixture is well blended. (You can also do this by hand with a whisk, after first finely chopping the garlic.)

In a serving bowl, gently toss the beans, asparagus and dressing. You can add more salt and/or lemon juice to taste.

Serves 2 to 4

PP per 4 servings: 4

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