Simple Super: White Bean-Spinach-Quinoa-Bacon Salad

The other evening suppertime approached and the only ideas I had involved ingredients in my refrigerator. I took those ingredients–bacon, spinach, quinoa, cannelini beans–and went to find a recipe. The result was this delicious hot salad! I used leftover cooked quinoa (cajun spiced!) and the meal came together in a snap. The red wine vinegar added a tasty, unexpected zing. And come on, anything with bacon and asparagus is pretty darn tasty.

(slightly adapted from Closet Cooking)
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1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 sweet onion, sliced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound of asparagus, woody stems broken off, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 (6 ounce) package baby spinach
1 (19 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

Cook the quinoa as directed on the package.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a pan, about 4-6 minutes, and set aside, reserving 1-2 Tablespoons of bacon grease. Caramelize the onions, mushrooms, and asparagus in the remaining bacon grease, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Add the vinegar to the pan and deglaze it. Mix in the reserved bacon grease, sugar, mustard, garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the spinach and the beans and cook until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in the bacon and veggies. Spoon over the quinoa, or mix it all together in the pan before serving.

Soup Pot: White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Do you know Alice Waters? I don’t know her personally, of course, but I have great admiration for Alice Waters. She started the restaurant Chez Panisse out in Berkeley, CA; she’s a slow food proponent; she loves good food; she writes recipes that highlight the natural beauty and flavor of the ingredients.

I own several of her gorgeous cookbooks! They are worth owning just for the joy of paging through them. The Art of Simple Food is a particular favorite. The recipes are simple, but deep. The book is filled with practical tips, and cooking fundamentals.

This is the second time I’ve made White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic. It’s incredibly easy, but the exquisite depth of flavor is something to savor from a humble bowl of beans. With just five ingredients, the garlic and rosemary sing out in each bite. Served alongside a nice green salad and some bread, you’ll have a well-balanced, easy, delicious meal.

(from The Art of Simple Food)
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1 cup dried white beans
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves (I used 1/2 tsp dried)

Soak the beans overnight in 4 cups of water.

Drain and transfer to a heavy pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off the foam. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so, until the beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during the cooking. Season to taste with salt.

In a skillet over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook just until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir into the beans, taste for salt, and adjust as needed. Let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry (don’t you just love that description?!).