Bean Salad with Fresh Salmon and Dill
- SERVINGS: 4
Cannellini beans dressed with good olive oil are a staple first course in trattorias. Combine them with salmon and dilltwo very un-Italian ingredientsand you get an elegant main course with clean, direct flavors.
- 1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans (10 ounces), soaked overnight and drained
- 1 samll onion, halved
- 1 carrot, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium fennel bulb, finely diced, stalks, core and fronds reserved
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup good fruity olive oil
- Two 8-ounce skinless salmon fillets
- Place the beans in a large pot. Add 2 quarts of water and the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves and the reserved fennel stalks and core. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Season the beans with salt and pepper during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Drain the beans and discard all the cooked vegetables. Coarsely chop the fennel fronds. Transfer the beans to a large serving platter and, while still warm, add the dill, diced fennel bulb, fennel fronds and all but 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.
- In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper, add the fish to the skillet and cook over moderate heat on 1 side until brown and crusty, about 3 minutes. Gently flip the salmon and cook on the other side until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate to cool slightly. Break the salmon into large flakes and toss gently with the beans. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.
A round, full-bodied white, such as Falesco Grechetto or Mazzocco River Lane, a California Chardonnay, would set off the flavors of this mild but savory salad and complement the richness of the salmon and the olive oil dressing.