This any-time salad—winter or spring, lunch or dinner, casual or elegant—is a flavor-packed delight. Quick-cooking the beans yourself (no soaking required) is vital for the simplest flavor and texture. They dress during a zippy vinaigrette and laced with thin shavings of Parmesan cheese (a lot of it!), red bell pepper, and just enough crunchy kale. Best served slightly warm or at temperature.
White Bean & Kale Salad with Lemony Dijon Vinaigrette
1 hour, 15 minutes
1.75 c. dried small white beans (like navy beans), uncooked and unsoaked
water (for cooking beans)
3-3.5 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
4 c. finely chopped kale, (about 1/2 a bunch, tough ribs and stems removed)
1 small red pepper, very thinly sliced (consider using a mandolin)
3/4 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (see TIP A for toasting)
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, very thinly sliced or shaved (about 1 c.)
Lemony Dijon Vinaigrette:
juice of 1.5 lemons
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. pure honey
1 medium garlic clove, grated
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
One: Cook the Beans:
Thoroughly rinse the beans under cold water and discard any that are funny-looking. Put them in a 5-6 quart pot and add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a gentle boil and let it stay at boiling for 3-5 minutes. Then drain the water, rinse the beans, and re-fill the pot to the same point with fresh, cold water. Return the beans to the fresh water and this time add 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring the water to a gentle simmer (below boiling) and let the beans cook at this moderately hot, high-steam temperature for 45-60 minutes or until soft but not at all mushy or falling apart. Check the water periodically to ensure that it does not become too hot (boiling) or too cold (steady). Once done, drain the water and transfer the beans to a large bowl. Immediately add the 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (while beans are still warm) if using.
Two: Prepare the Vinaigrette:
Meanwhile, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients (lemon juice through 1/8 teaspoon black pepper) in a small bowl.
Three: Compose Salad:
Pour the vinaigrette over the warm white beans and gently stir to coat. Then add the finely chopped kale, red pepper slices, walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and remaining 1/2-1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste). Lastly, add the Parmesan shavings. Gently toss and serve.
TIP A: Briefly toasting any nut helps to enhance its flavor and nuttiness. Simply spread the walnuts across a small rimmed baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 350° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden and fragrant.