Ancient Romans, rich or poor, were quite fond of beans, especially chickpeas and consumed them frequently dressed in olive oil. Rucola – also called rocket or arugula – as become mainstream only since a couple of decades but it has actually been foraged as an edible herb for many centuries. It’s spicy bitterness it’s prefect to offset the sweet flavor of the beans.
This a simple recipe which you can use as a template for a variety of bean salads. You can also herbs like parsley or fennel fronds instead of arugula. I also like to garnish it with a little ricotta or really fresh mozzarella torn into bite size pieces. Add some farro and you have a great vegetarian meal instead of a side dish.
- 250 gr (approx. 1 and 1/2 cups) chickpeas or lentils or other favorite beans.
- 6-8 ripe plum tomatoes, halved or diced
- a couple of handfuls rucola leaves, washed and drained
- 1 large garlic clove finely chopped or minced with a garlic press
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
for the vegetable stock :
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 1 small tomato
If using canned beans, rinse and drain. If cooking beans like garbanzo or white beans, soak them 24 h, then rinse and drain. Lentils need no soaking, so you can cook them directly. Place beans in a pot and cover with at least 10 cm (4 inches) water. Cover and simmer for 30 min to 1 and 1/2 hour depending on size and age of beans. They must be tender and cooked through.
To finish, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a finely minced garlic clove to a shallow pan. Sautè garlic over low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and simmer briefly. Add beans, simmer slowly until warm. Switch off heat, add rucola, season and transfer in a bowl to serve immediately.
Drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil and good quality balsamic vinegar, if desired.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or vegetarian main.
Optional: to make the salad more substantial, add a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta or a few pieces of mozzarella. As a further alternative, cook 125 gr./one cup farro in boiling water. Drain, toss with 2 tablespoon EVO oil and add to the beans.