White bean salad with dried chorizo, roasted red peppers and green olives
I came up with the idea for this salad because I wanted to feature ingredients from Conserva, a specialty food store in Portland owned and operated by Manuel and Leslie Recio. Conserva is focused on curating and importing the authentic flavors and food items from Spain and France, and was created to complement to Viridian Farms, the couple's farm on Grand Island, near Dayton, Oregon.
This combination of pungent flavors--dried chorizo sausage, roasted red pepper, briny green olives and Espelette pepper--combined with white beans, makes for a hearty and satisfying lunch. Piment d'Espelette is floral rather than spicy. Add the amount of this robust ground red pepper that suites your palette, with an additional pinch of cayenne if you're looking for heat. In this recipe, the Espelette pepper is added to the salad after all of the ingredients have been combined and tossed together, as a final touch.
If you have canned or precooked white beans and roasted peppers in a jar, you can put this salad together in minutes.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup small white beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 peeled shallot or 3/4-inch piece of leek
3 cloves garlic
6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/3-cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground Espelette pepper to taste
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into thin strips (See Techniques) or purchased
16 to 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
10 large green olives, pitted and hand-torn into large pieces
1 medium-size shallot, thinly sliced
One 4-ounce dried chorizo sausage, sliced in thin rounds and cut into half moons
1/4 cup whole parsley leaves, stems removed
To cook the beans, drain them, discard the liquid and add them to a saucepan with 5 cups water. Bring the water to a simmer, occasionally removing any white foam or impurities that rise to the top of the water line with a spoon. Add the salt, shallot or leek, garlic and thyme. Depending how long (and using what method) the beans were soaked, it should take between 50 and 70 minutes until they are ready. To test them, remove one from the pan and bite into it. It should have a very slight bit of resistance, rather than yielding to the tooth immediately. When a few samples meet this criteria, remove the beans from heat and let them cool in the pan until the liquid is room temperature. If you don't have time for this step, strain them immediately and transfer them to another container to cool. Save the flavorful bean liquid for soup or stock.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a large bowl, and slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt.
Add the beans, peppers, tomatoes, olives and shallots to the vinaigrette, toss well to combine and coat the ingredients, and then season to taste with Espelette pepper.
Spoon the salad onto a large platter or individual plates. Scatter the chorizo slices and parsley leaves over the salad and serve.