The sun is shining, crocuses are blooming, oranges are in season, and salad for dinner seemed like a welcome change of pace. Inspired by my fennel flavored Arikara beans, I decide to try the same cooking technique with some delicate green flageolet beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm.
I tossed the beans in a mustard vinaigrette with sliced fresh fennel bulb and sections of blood oranges, and layered this onto some salad greens dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.
To accompany the salad, I prepared an olive tapenade that incorporated some of the same flavors as the salad, with fennel fronds and citrus zest.
The tapenade was delicious on olive bread from the Eugene City Bakery and provided a bold, salty contrast to the mild, crunchy and fruity salad. It almost feels like spring. And as an extra treat, this recipe was selected as an editor's pick on Amanda Hesser's Food52 website.
Flageolet bean salad with fennel, orange, and tapenade
For the salad
2 cups green flageolet beans, rinsed
1 fennel bulb
2 blood oranges or 1 large naval orange
mixed salad greens
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the tapenade
1/2 cup pitted olives
2 Tbsp capers
1 clove garlic
handful of fennel fronds
handful of parsley leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Rinse the beans and put them in a slow cooker or a pot with 4 cups of water. Rinse the fennel bulb and cut off the stalks. Reserve the bulb and a handful of the most tender fronds. Layer the remaining stalks and fronds over the beans. Simmer the beans on low for about 3 hours, swirling occasionally to mix, until they are tender but still firm (on the stovetop this may take less time and require additional water). Remove the fennel stalks and season generously with salt. Drain 2 cups of the cooked beans for the salad and reserve the remaining beans for another use.
2. Prepare the tapenade. If you're like me and don't like raw garlic, heat the garlic clove in a dry, hot skillet, until it is blacked in patches on the outside and soft and fragrant, or skip this step. In a food processor, combine the olives, capers, garlic clove, reserved fennel fronds, parsley, 1 tsp of zest from both the lemon and orange, red pepper flakes, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Pulse briefly into a coarse, chunky paste.
3. Prepare the bean salad. Cut the fennel bulb into thin slices. Peel the oranges, slice, and quarter each slice. In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked beans, fennel and orange slices and mix well. Adjust seasoning.
4. Prepare the salad. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss in the salad greens until well coated. Layer on the bean salad, and serve with tapenade and bread. If you like, you can prepare tapenade toasts under the broiler.
Other recipes for heirloom beans: