I was raised on a farm where we grew our own asparagus, so for me this vegetable always shouts “Spring!” Luckily, due to the marvels of modern growing and shipping practices, we have access to this vegetable almost year round. But let’s face it: Asparagus is still best in the spring.
Sometimes all you want to do is steam your asparagus and have it on the side with fish or even steak. But other times, you want something different. And for that we go to one of my cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen. And it delivers!
By including cannellini beans and arugula, you are creating a dish that can be a satisfying side salad to any meal or a vegetarian main dish.
For me, the real star of this salad is the balsamic vinegar. I never would’ve thought to combine it with asparagus but it is wonderful!
This was also the first time I tried sautéing asparagus in a pan. Since this recipe calls for smaller spears of asparagus (less than ½ inch thick), most cooking methods run the risk of overcooked or mushy results. Sautéing on high heat produces slightly browned and crisp-tender pieces.
Start by browning your red onion, then add the asparagus and cook that for 4 minutes. Transfer the onion-asparagus mixture to a bowl, stir in the beans, and let it cool slightly.
Then whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients, toss a little bit of this with the arugula and then add the rest to the asparagus mixture.
Make a layer of arugula on your plate or bowl, top with the asparagus mixture and serve.
Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad
- 5 TB olive oil extra-virgin
- ½ red onion sliced thin
- 1 pound thin asparagus trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
- salt and pepper
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 2 TB plus 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 cups baby arugula
- Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large skillet on high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the onion and cook until it starts to brown .. for about a minute. Add the asparagus with 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes until the asparagus is browned.
- Transfer cooked asparagus and onions to a bowl. Add the cannellini beans, stir together and let the mixture cool slightly.
- In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar with ¼ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Continue whisking while you slowly drizzle in the remaining 3 TB of oil.
- Gently toss the arugula with 2 TB of the dressing until the greens are evenly coated. Divide the arugula among the serving plates.
- Toss the asparagus mixture with the rest of the dressing. Arrange over the arugula on the plates and serve.