Monday, April 4, 2011

Tom Cruise You Missed My Cannellini Bean Salad

I 'm not normally star struck, but when I heard Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were on the guest list for Jennifer's wedding, I have to say, I was a little excited. Not just about the slight chance that movie stars might make it to the celebration, but some of the dishes planned were new to me and deliciously exciting as well.

Jennifer is my friend Rita's daughter, she comes from a beautiful family with great taste in food and chose a rustic Italian menu for her October 19,1997 reception. Jennifer worked for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, when the day came and they couldn't make it, I was a sorry but glad too. Catering Jennifer's wedding, I had been officially introduced to cannellini beans and thanks to her suggestion, I am a huge fan of the resulting Tuscan style salad.

Cannellini beans are very popular in many types of Italian cuisine, especially Tuscan dishes.They are creamy, silky, tender, and have a traditional kidney shape. The cooked beans have a slightly buttery nutty taste and mild earthiness, they have a relatively thin skin and tender, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.

Cannellini beans are large white beans, about 1/2" long, with a firm texture and skin. Simple preparation is all that is required.  A staple of minestrones, fagioli's, and salads, cannellini beans have many health benefits: low in fat, high in protein, high in fiber, minerals, B vitamins. Cannellini are versatile, affordable and enhance many dishes. They have a long shelf life, for a quick meal keep a can on hand for a quick meal.

I used my favorite cannellini bean recipe and added a lemon herb chicken breast for the cooking class I taught on March 26. It's a great dish, quick, easy and delicious. Tom, Nicole, I bet your sorry you missed it!

Easy Lemon Herb Chicken 
and Cannellini Bean Salad
(makes 4 servings)
4 each chicken breast, 4 ounces each
2 teaspoons dry Italian herb blend
4 ounces spring mix lettuce
1 can cannellini beans
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
4 leaf basil, chiffonade
1 small roma tomato, diced
2 small lemon, juiced
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

1. Season chicken breast with the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper and one tablespoon dry Italian herb blend and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Grill chicken over medium heat, four to five minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl combine thinly sliced red onions with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. 
4. Crush and add garlic, beans, tomatoes and basil.
5. Toss to coat-fold in feta cheese.
6. Slice chicken, serve over bean salad and spring mix lettuce.

If cooking cannellini beans from dry
Soak the cannellini beans overnight, then boil them for at least 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer about 1-2 hours or until tender. Boiling removes toxins that can cause gastric discomfort. Salt should be added at the end of cooking as it can toughen beans.
A special thank you to The Friends Of Yorba Linda Library for sponsering
Meals In Minutes, Saturday March 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm in the Multi-Purpose Room
18181 Imperial Hwy. Yorba Linda CA. 92886


~ Chef Louise said...

cannellini... what a perfect description you wrote. that's hard to do about a simple white little legume. Anyway I heard scientologists don't eat beans... or can they eat them in silence? i cannot

Zayne said...

those beans were the best! for the first time, I actually ate the salad and liked it :D