White Bean Asparagus Salad
Basil Lemon Dressing
BEANS: Beans are a wonder food - an excellent source of vitamin-rich, low-fat protein. Beans help to lower cholesterol, combat heart disease, stabilize blood sugar, reduce obesity, relieve constipation, hypertension and type II diabetes, and lessen the risk of cancer.
ASPARAGUS: High in Vitamins K and A. Asparagus has a unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients aiding in digestive support, heart health and blood sugar regulation. As a result of its very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrient composition, eating asparagus reduces your risk for certain cancers, including possibly leukemia.
LEMONS/LIMES: Lemons contain unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. These flavonoids have been shown to stop cell division in many cancer cells. As an excellent source of vitamin C, lemons help to neutralize free radicals, which can damage healthy cells in the body and cause swelling and chronic pain. Although acidic in taste, lemons actually have an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to reduce inflammation.
White Bean Asparagus Salad
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
1 lb asparagus
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus a few more leaves for garnish
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, zested and juiced, plus more to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups salad greens of your liking (spinach, kale, green lettuce, or a mixture of all three)
1. If using canned beans, drain and rinse.
2. If using dried beans, allow to soak overnight and follow directions on package to cook. Once, thoroughly cooked, allow to cool.
3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water.
4. While waiting for the pot to boil, break off tough ends of the asparagus and slice the asparagus diagonally into bite-size 1-inch pieces.
5. Once pot is at a rolling boil, blanch sliced asparagus for 1 minute, or until just cooked through but still firm. Then drain the asparagus and quickly plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
Pro tip: Plunging asparagus in an ice bath after blanching help to set its color and flavor.
6. In a blender or food processor, combine basil, lemon zest, garlic, salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about 1 minute.
7. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and a little dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.
8. Place salad greens in a large salad bowl and dress with dressing to your liking. Add asparagus and bean mixture on top of the greens and garnish with a little lemon and basil.
Chef’s Note: This dressing is very versatile and works well with other herbs, like tarragon or parsley or maybe even a mixture. Feel free to use what you like and what you have on hand.