White Bean Salad with Sausage and Fennel
Far too often we open the weekend by blowing the food budget at the wine store, and end up seeking creative ways to still eat well the rest of the week. This bean salad is just the ticket. Last summer we were doing it as a side dish, until our much healthier--and less gluttonous --friend Kara pointed out that it really is a meal in and of itself. Our arteries thank her.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (and/or lime)
1/2 Fennel Bulb
One Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Two 14oz. Cans Butter Beans
1/2 Pint Tomatoes (something small, like cherry or grape)
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Two Sausages (approx. 1/2 pound total)
One tablespoon minced shallot (approx. one small shallot)
One small clove of Garlic (minced)
1/4 Cup Dill
(Yields two full servings or four side dishes)
Cook the two sausages on a grill or in a sauté pan for about five minutes per side until done. (This is about the point when J decides he needs a beer to keep him company during the prep, but consider that optional.)
For the vinaigrette place the lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the Dijon mustard until well combined. Pour in the olive oil and whisk vigorously for about a minute. Add garlic and shallot. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. (This can also be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated.)
Heat butter beans in a pan over medium heat until warm. (For extra flavor you can add rosemary, bay leaves or garlic as they heat. J likes to add truffle oil.)
Core the half fennel bulb and slice paper thin or use a mandolin. Add to a mixing bowl along with the dill. Slice tomatoes in half and add to the bowl. Add half the vinaigrette and gently combine ingredients.
Remove beans from heat and strain the liquid. Add beans and sliced sausage to the mixing bowl along with the remainder of the vinaigrette.
If you are local to the Salt Lake City area you can make this dish extra tasty by picking up Strianese Italian Butter Beans and Creminelli sausage from Tony Caputo's Market & Deli. At about $1.39 a can the beans are comparable in price to what you'd pay for your basic white beans at the grocery store, but much more flavorful. As for the sausage, the Creminelli family has been producing artisan meats in Italy as far back as the 1600's, but in June celebrated one year of making their fine meats available in America. Under the supervision of the oldest son, Christiano, the family legacy continues right here in our own backyard. Until the dollar improves it is about as close to Italy as we are going to get.