Roasted chickpeas are a wonderful thing. The little round legumes, when tossed with olive oil and cooked in the oven until their edges dry out and crisp, make a wonderful snack or salad addition (see related recipes below for links to dishes where I've used them).
Turns out you can achieve a similar effect with other types of canned legumes. I got the idea from a recipe by Kay Chun for Warm Escarole-and-Shiitake Salad with Crispy Beans in the latest issue of Food & Wine. For this salad, I drained and rinsed a can of red kidney beans, tossed them with olive oil and seasonings and roasted them until they split open and dried out. They were amazing! I really love their texture and taste. Just like the chickpeas, they would make a great snack or salad topping.
Because canned beans are a little softer than canned chickpeas, they can be roasted at a lower temperature. They're done in about a half hour. If you think about it, give them a stir halfway through to promote even cooking. Check them after half an hour and give them an extra 5 minutes or so in the oven if it seems like some of the beans might still be soft.
This salad is actually inspired by one of my favorite winter soups, Smoky Pinto Bean, Red Wine and Bacon Soup, a recipe from New York Times recipe columnist Melissa Clark. Here, I've taken many of that recipe's ingredients--the bacon, onion and celery, rosemary, the beans, of course, and even the red wine (in the vinaigrette)--and translated them into a salad. If you're getting tired of winter soups, this is great way to put something on the table with similar ingredients but a lighter, fresher profile.
I'm interested in roasting other types of canned beans, possibly with other seasonings. I wonder what roasted black beans tossed with ground cumin and chili powder would be like. Although hominy isn't a bean, this similar treatment for canned hominy, roasted with garlic and chili powder, also sounds tasty. Any other ideas for roasted beans? Please share them in the comments.
Bacon and Roasted Bean Salad
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz. thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon (I recommend Benton's, available online)
3-4 cups of torn green-leaf lettuce leaves
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
2 celery ribs, cut on an angle into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Combine beans with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Spread beans in an even layer on a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil if desired for easy clean-up) and roast until the beans have split open and dried out, about 30-35 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until browned and crisp. Set aside to cool and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Chop into bits.
3. Combine lettuce, onion, celery, rosemary and bacon bits in a large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard and honey, then whisk in the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Divide the salad onto two plates and serve topped with a generous handful of the roasted beans (serve any remaining beans on the side--they make a great snack).