I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekends, be it celebrating July 1 or July 4.
I was telling my Mom about my low-key Canada Day plans….
Well, first we went grocery shopping…
WHAT?!, she exclaimed. All the grocery stores are closed here.
True, the big chain grocery stores were closed on Friday, but that didn’t stop Sunny’s (or Bestwin or even T&T) from being open. Sunny’s, my current favourite grocery store, is located in Flemingdon Park, the Toronto neighbourhood with the highest percentage of immigrants (67% of its residents, with 23% recent immigrants). Sunny’s advertises over 10 languages its staff can speak, and it truly offers a multicultural grocery experience. Due to its local clientele, the prices are great and the produce is fresh. And it was open on Canada Day. Hourray for me!
BBQs are in full swing now at our place, even though we are still living out of boxes. Rob has chosen to take full advantage of the barbecue, grilling up various kinds of meats for guests, whereas I typically reign in the salad department. I have revisited some of my old favourites, and of course, tried out a few new ones that will be shared shortly, including this lovely warm leek and white bean salad.
White beans are combined with caramelized leeks and smothered in a light mustard sauce. I was mostly inspired by the recipe from Waitrose since I adapted it quite a bit. I increased the amount of leeks, used dill instead of parsley, added in lemon pepper and simplified their mustard dressing. I like how creamy dressing can get with mustard alone!
You can bring your bean salad to the next level by cooking up your own beans with complementary flavours. Here, I opted to cook my own flageolet beans in vegetable broth and rosemary for additional flavour. Cook up more beans than you need, freeze the extra with the stock and you can whip up another tasty white bean salad in a heart beat. Tinned beans would work too, if you haven’t yet converted to cooking your own beans (I had a hard time locating dried flageolet beans in Toronto, let alone canned flageolets, though!).
While you could use any white bean (cannellini/white kidney, Great Northern, or even something smaller like navy or black eyed pea, etc), after delving into my heirloom bean collection, I have realized wonderful novelty beans can be! The first bean I tried was the green flageolet. I found it locally at Rube’s Rice in the St Lawrence Market, so thankfully I can easily replenish my pantry (instead of outsourcing my supply from the US!). Flageolets are smaller white beans, but deliciously smooth and creamy. They are commonly used in the French cassoulet, but here, they make this salad shine. I look forward to trying other ways of using these delicious beans over the summer.
Warm Leek and Flageolet Bean Salad with a Mustard Dressing
1 cup dried flageolet beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
2.5 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and white and light green parts thinly sliced (515g prepped leek)
1/8 tsp sea salt
20g fresh dill, chopped (around 3 tbsp)
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
1. Drain soaked beans and rinse well. Combine rinsed flageolet beans, broth, bay leaves, and rosemary in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, this was around 80 minutes for me, but start checking after an hour. Once at their desired consistency, remove bay leaves and rosemary. Drain beans and set aside to cool. (Save that liquid you just drained, it would be a fabulous vegetable broth).
2. Once the beans are cooling, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the leeks and salt. As soon as the leeks begin to soften, turn down the heat fairly low and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are soft (don’t let them take on any colour).
3. Add the beans and toss together until heated through. Take off the heat; stir in the dill and lemon pepper. Season to taste.
4. For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, vinegar and remaining 3 tbsp oil and season well. Stir into the pan of warm leeks and beans, just prior to serving (I found the dressing was soaked up a lot when eaten as leftovers, and I preferred it freshly dressed).