There's just enough garlic, lemon juice and shallot here to wake up the flavor of the beans without overpowering them.
If your mortar is large enough, you can combine the beans and the dressing directly in the bowl, which can double as a serving vessel. If you prefer your greens dressed, toss them in a medium bowl with 1 or 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette, then combine the remaining vinaigrette with the beans and plate the dish as described.
If you're short on time, try using cooked lentils in place of the beans.
Make Ahead: The beans must be soaked in water overnight.
Yield: Makes 2 1/2 cups
- 1 cup dried navy beans or other small white bean
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 3 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or more to taste
- 4 cups arugula, mache or watercress
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 1 inch. When ready to cook, transfer the beans and their soaking liquid to a heavy saucepan, and add enough fresh water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the water is barely bubbling around the edges. Partially cover the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the freshness of the beans. Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan and let it cool slightly.
Toast the fennel seed in a small skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking occasionally, until they are lightly golden and fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the fennel to cool.
Use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic and salt together into a paste. Add the fennel seed and crush lightly. Stir in the lemon juice and shallot and let the mixture stand for at least 10 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to blend in the oil until emulsified. Add the black pepper.
Transfer the beans to a colander to drain. If your mortar is large, add the warm, drained beans to the vinaigrette in the mortar and stir to combine. If not, transfer both the vinaigrette and the warm beans to a medium bowl and combine. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
To serve, divide the greens among four plates and spoon equal amounts of the beans on top.
From Washington food writer Emily Horton.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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