I don’t think I am alone when I say that as much as I adore cooking, the heat of the summer can really test that love. I don’t find myself extremely hungry when it is hot and humid and since it is my hunger and cravings that usually prompt a wild rendezvous in the kitchen I am less and less likely to be inspired to get in there and get busy. That said, however, there are nights when I am really hungry and the physical heat of the kitchen becomes my deterrent. That is when the grill out back becomes my hero. And what goes better with a grilled protein than a cool fresh summer side? Enter this White Bean and Asparagus Salad.
Not only is this superfood-packed salad a perfect accompaniment to grilled steak tips, lamb kebabs, or burgers, but also it stands up on its own just perfectly. I really enjoyed eating the leftovers for lunch. This is one of those salads where the flavors actually improve after a few days. And because asparagus is nice and fibrous it doesn’t get mushy.
*A Note about Raw Garlic: I am a garlic fiend. I love eating chunks of fresh raw garlic in foods, therefore, in salads like this one, if I am preparing it for myself and my family, I only roughly chop the garlic. However, chunks of raw garlic aren’t pleasant for most people. If you are preparing a dish containing raw garlic for a crowd, I recommend always finely mincing it or passing it through a garlic press.
White Bean and Asparagus Salad:
- 2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed and rough ends snapped off
- 7 sundried tomatoes (not in oil)
- 3 cloves of garlic*, roughly chopped or minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- a pinch or two of crushed red pepper
- 1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons capers, drained
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a steamer basket over boiling water, place asparagus and dried tomatoes. Cover and steam until asparagus is crisp and tender–approximately 4 minutes. Remove tomatoes and set aside. Using tongs, remove asparagus from basket and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the water. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces and set aside. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic, oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Add asparagus, tomatoes, beans, and capers. Toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.