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Cranberry Bean, Broccoli Rabe and Bacon Salad

Look for fresh cranberry beans in the pod at farmers’ markets during the fall. The creamy-textured, nutty-flavored beans pair beautifully with autumn greens. Broccoli rabe has nicely jagged leaves for sautéed salads, but you could easily substitute kale or chard.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (2 lb.) fresh cranberry beans, shelled
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 lb. broccoli rabe, stemmed
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 lb. thin-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Directions:

Put the beans in a saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1/2 tsp. of the salt, the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Chop the tender portions of the broccoli rabe. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and the pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the greens are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

In a small fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and place in a serving bowl. Add the broccoli rabe and the bacon along with its rendered fat. Add the vinegar to taste, toss to mix and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012).