I didn’t go into this salad with a good attitude. The first batch of beans I tried cooking for it had their own attitude problems, and they pretty much all burst during cooking, which wasn’t good for this salad or my plans to do something other than scrub a pot that evening. But, as you’ve probably already divined from the fact that it’s appearing here, I ultimately triumphed and it was totally worth it.
I am pretty sure that this salad would be fabulous even with canned beans, which is why I’ve tagged it for a weeknight supper; I just had a bee up my bonnet after that first batch rebelled on me. The combination of the brown sugar and the tang of the lemon juice gives a surprising depth of flavor, and the caramelized carrots come out wonderfully sweet. I liked this best warm, but it could be served at room temperature or even cold.
White Bean and Carrot Salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
4 medium carrots
4 c. cooked white beans (or two 15-oz. cans; I used navy beans, but you could use cannellini or their oddly-named smaller cousins, Great Northern beans)
1 T. dried dill or 3 T. fresh dill
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. brown sugar
Wash or peel the carrots, and then slice them as evenly as you can, aiming for slices about a quarter-inch thick. You can do this quickly by trimming the carrots, lining them up side by side, and chopping across all four at once.
Heat a big skillet or chef’s pan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil in it. (Start with 2 T. if you’re the measuring type.) Add the carrots in a single layer. If your skillet isn’t huge or if you’re doubling the recipe, you may need to do this step in batches. Eventually, the carrots will let off a bit of water, and then start to brown. Stir them every few minutes and cook until most of them are nicely caramelized on at least one side, which will be ten or fifteen minutes.
While they’re cooking, peel the shallots and mince them finely. Combine them with 1/4 c. olive oil, the lemon juice, and the salt. Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.
Add the beans and dill to the skillet with another small splash (about a tablespoon) of olive oil. Cook until the mixture is thoroughly heated, about five minutes, then remove from the heat and pour into your serving bowl.
Sprinkle with the brown sugar and add about half of the dressing and stir to mix. Let it sit for five minutes or so, and then taste. You’ll probably want to add most of the rest of the dressing, possibly along with more salt.
Serves six as a main dish and ten as a side; I liked it reheated in the microwave for lunches. If someone in your family is dubious about beans, you could also serve this over couscous or bulgur for a more mixed texture.