Cannellini Bean Salad

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For those of us in rural America, cannellini beans are new or unheard of.  Also known as white kidney beans, cannellini beans are widely used in Italian cooking and are slowly starting to creep onto the shelves of our grocery stores.  I can't really remember my first encounter with them, but, as with so many other legumes, I love them.  What's not to love about a bean?  It has protein and fiber and is low in fat.  Beans are among some of the cheapest healthier foods out there, making them budget friendly as well.  Cannellinis are creamy and a great complement to other common Italian/Mediterranean ingredients, such as olive oil, tomatoes, red onion, etc.

I first found this recipe thanks to a daily recipe e-mail I get from allrecipes.com, and decided to try it out.

Remember the last post I did, the slightly disappointing chicken and pasta salad?  Well, this one is not a disappointment.  I love it AND it tastes like what I expect a bean salad to taste like.  I love it when things work together like that!  It is Italian-y (anyone who is Italian and disagrees let me know!) and has the great quality of being able to sit out for a while, making it a great picnic or potluck item.

Like so many recipes, I didn't follow this one to the letter- imagine that!  I have written the recipe as I did it.  To see the original, click the link. 

Cannellini Bean Salad
adapted from allrecipes.com, submitted by Alden Thornton

1 large red bell pepper or equivalent of one roasted red bell pepper
2- 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 minced fresh basil
3 Tb. red wine vinegar
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1.  Roast the pepper over a flame or under the broiler, rotating the pepper as the skin blackens and blisters, until the skin is totally black and blistered, about 15-20 mintues.  Place the pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will loosen the skin.  Let cool for about 10 minutes, and then peel off skin and dice pepper.  OR if you are pressed for time, use a jarred roasted red bell pepper. 

2.  In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.  Shake well to combine.

2.  In a med-lg. bowl, combine beans, pepper, onion, and basil.  Pour dressing over the bean mixture and toss everything to coat.  It is best if the salad sits overnight in the fridge. 

This is the beginning of the pepper roasting process- I just turned on my broiler and let it go until it looks like a campfire marshmallow torch.

Here's what it looks like when it's done roasting.  Notice how the skin is loosening from the steam that is created when the plastic wrap covers the bowl?

A great way to cut an onion (I still haven't figured out how to cut one without crying, so if you know how, please tell me in the comments section!) is to leave the bulb part on and make slices with your  knife, like I did.  Then, cut across all those slices and you have a dice- the bulb part serves to keep the onion from slipping while you cut.

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