Lunch Today: White Bean Salad

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

white-bean-saladThis is a great salad to keep you going all day long. High in protein and full of flavor, thanks to fresh ingredients, this salad will be a great addition to your lunch box. Dried beans give you the best texture because they're firmer and hold their shape better. If time is an issue, substitute canned beans, but be sure to thoroughly drain and rinse them before using. Be gentle when folding them in. White beans such as kidney beans, cannellini or navy beans, are full of fiber and antioxidants, and are very low on the glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is used to rank foods based on how they affect your blood sugar levels. Low GI foods, like white beans, metabolize slowly and provide steady energy for hours after being consumed. This in turn helps stave off cravings for sugary foods and control mood swings. But the health benefits of eating low glycemic foods such as white beans do not end there: low GI foods may also help forestall diabetes in pre-diabetic people and reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. The beans, combined with fresh greens, ripe tomatoes and fragrant fennel, make this antioxidant-rich salad a healthy alternative to drive-thru window fare. White Bean Salad • 1 cup white kidney beans (or bean of your choice) • 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, and 1 sprig of rosemary • 1 large garlic clove • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced • 1 small cooking onion, finely diced • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped • 2 cups fresh baby greens (spinach, spring mix or Swiss chard) Vinaigrette • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 2 tsp fresh basil leaves, chopped finely • 1 tsp Dijon mustard • 1/2 tsp agave syrup • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste If using dry beans, rinse them and place in a large bowl. Cover them with cold water and soak at room temperature for at least 4 hours (overnight is also good). Drain and rinse before cooking. To cook, place beans in large pot with 3 cups water and the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Cover and boil gently for 1 1/2 hours. Drain and remove the bay leaf, herbs, and garlic. Spread beans on a towel-lined baking sheet and cool to room temperature. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add fennel slices and onion and sauté over medium heat until soft. Place the fennel in a bowl and gently toss in beans, tomatoes and the greens. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over bean mixture and gently toss. Photo from here, with thanks.