White Bean, Fennel and Red Radish Salad

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I must be honest with all of you, I haven’t had the energy to cook much lately. It pisses me off that I’ve been too exhausted to do it. Of course I’m not taking any of the obvious into account like simply birthing a child, chasing around another, not getting a good nights rest and breastfeeding every oh hour! However, I’m the type of woman who loves to cook, bake and feed those near and dear with my creations. I still cook (obviously I’ve been documenting it in this blog!) but it’s not as much as I usually do. I usually cook ALL the time. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now a days you'll find me in the morning quickly making myself a pot of tea and my son his whole grain porridge before the baby wakes up to feed AGAIN. Or you'll find me there while my son is napping and the baby is snuggled in her baby holder wrapped around my body so she can nap while I rummage through the fridge to find something for me to eat. I laugh at that saying “make sure you nap when the baby naps”. HA. If only….

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I’ve become reacquainted with some of my forgotten favorite things like the fantastic quesadilla. I toast up a sprouted tortilla in a hot skillet, melt some sharp goat cheddar, smash a half an avocado with a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Yum. So simple, so easy and so tasty. If my nursing wee one wasn’t so affected by spicy foods I’d be adding some hot sauce into the mix too. But I gotta admit, there has been something quite satisfying about the pure taste of all those flavors together without the heat.

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Thankfully I still get inspiration from recipes I come across that propel me to get up offa my tired ass and get cooking in the kitchen though. It usually comes when I’m breastfeeding being that this is the only time I have to catch up on e-mails and search around the web on my iPad. I was reading the NY Times dining section the other day and was immediately enticed by this chickpea recipe by David Tanis. That recipe really has nothing to do with the salad I actually ended up making but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the idea inspired my creative juices to play around. And when my eyes came upon these beautiful large dried heirloom white beans in my pantry - the result was this delicious white bean salad. This salad would be great with any bean too so use what you got. Cooked beans also last a good few days in the fridge making them incredibly convenient to just grab and eat in many ways. I added some into my quesadilla mentioned above, on top of a bed of arugula, along side some organic rotisserie chicken my hubby picked up and also mixed into some cooked quinoa. The only real planning this recipe takes is to soak the beans overnight OR - as I mostly do - start soaking them in the morning to make for dinner. Soaking the beans not only helps speed up their cooking time but some also say it helps make them more digestible and less gassy. But you be the judge of that one. I, again, laugh at that thought...

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White Bean, Fennel, Red Radish Salad

  • 2 cups dried large white beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • sea salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, tops removed for cooking beans and bulb sliced for after
  • 1 bunch red radish, tops removed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley, leaves only
  • juice of 1 lemon

Drain soaked beans, discard soaking water and rinse with fresh. Add beans to a medium pot, cover them with about an inch of fresh water and bring to a boil. Add bay leaf, garlic cloves, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 TB olive oil and the fennel tops. Skim off and discard any rising foam. Lower heat and simmer gently for about an hour or until tender. Pour hot beans into a colander to drain off cooking liquid. (You could reserve the broth if you plan on making a soup). Discard the bay leaf, garlic cloves and fennel tops. Add a few TB of extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and the juice of 1 lemon. Let beans cool a bit then add them to a large serving bowl if you are planning to serve right away. If not, you could prepare the beans ahead of time before adding the rest of the ingredients. Mix in the sliced fennel, radish and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust - adding more salt, olive oil or lemon if desired. Serve.