Use any white bean to make this easy, tasty main or side
A hill of beans, you say? Coming right up.
Today we’re using corona beans (aka royal corona beans), a large white bean that’s very popular in Italy. Their size makes them perfect for an antipasto dish or salad. But if you don’t have corona beans on hand (they’re hard to find), you can substitute any white bean for this dish.
Coronas are worth the effort to search out, though. If for no other reason than to say you’ve bean there, done that.
Recipe: Italian Corona Bean Salad
Coronas look somewhat like lima beans, though their flavor is similar to cannellini or great northern beans. They’re a “meaty” bean with substance and texture.
We first learned about corona beans from our friend MJ, who writes the blog MJ's Kitchen. She introducted us to the beans in this post. We were intrigued by corona beans, and found them online at Rancho Gordo (a great supplier, BTW).
Our recipe is slightly adapted from one we found in our favorite bean cookbook, Fagioli, by Judith Barrett. If you like Italian bean dishes, this book is really worth checking out.
Assuming you have cooked beans on hand (see Notes for how to cook dried beans), this dish takes about 15 minutes to make.
This recipe yields 4 side-dish servings, or 2 to 3 mains. Leftovers will keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2 cups cooked corona beans (or substitute another white bean of choice)
- 2 ribs of celery, cut into slices of about ½ inch (or a bit less)
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 small red onion, diced (~¾ cup)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (the better the oil, the better this dish will taste)
- salt to taste (several pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (maybe half a dozen grinds)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (the flat-leaf Italian variety is our choice)
- garnish of red onion slices (optional)
- Combine the prepped beans, celery, carrot, and red onion in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and mix to combine.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix, then add the parsley and mix again.
- Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes. Then serve and enjoy, adding garnish if you wish.
- You can make this dish an hour or two ahead if you wish. Just cover the bowl with shrink wrap and let it sit on your kitchen counter (this salad is best served at room temperature).
- To cook dried corona beans: First, soak the beans. Sort through the beans to remove any dirt or grit, then place them in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover the beans by at least a couple of inches (the beans will swell as they absorb some of the water, so make sure to use a large-enough bowl). Let the beans soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- When ready to cook the beans: Drain and rinse the beans, then place them in a large cooking pot with a peeled onion. Cover the beans with water by about an inch, then simmer until the beans are done (add more water as they cook if necessary to keep them covered). Depending on how old the beans are, cooking time should range from 1 to 2 hours – usually about 1½ hours. We start tasting the beans after about an hour to see how they’re coming along. When they’re soft and creamy, they’re ready. We generally add salt to the bean pot 20 or so minutes before we think the beans will be done (a teaspoon or so of kosher salt for a pound of beans).
- Need a quicker soak method? Sort the dried beans, place them in a cooking pot and cover with water, then bring them to a boil. Continue to boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the cooking pot, and let the beans sit for 1 hour. Then drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the cooking directions in the Note above.
- When the beans are done cooking, let them cool in the pot. Fish out the onion and place the cooked beans into 2-cup containers (a pound of dried beans yields about 6 cups cooked). Cover the beans with cooking liquid, then either freeze them for later use or refrigerate for immediate use (like making this salad).
- Exact quantities aren’t crucial for this recipe. So alter it to taste, or even add/subtract ingredients if you wish.
- Don’t skimp on the quality of the olive oil – its flavor is important to this dish. So use high quality.
- We sometimes add a bit of lemon juice or wine vinegar to this dish, but olive oil alone adds sufficient flavor.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love the beans,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Unfortunate name, though, given our current pandemic.”
“Can’t stop eating these,” I said. “Hope my enthusiasm for them is infectious!”
“That’s another of your jokes that won’t go viral,” said Mrs K R.
I feel dis-eased.
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