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Humble Beans: Lemony Asparagus-Bean Salad

April 30, 2021
Lemony Asparagus-Bean Salad

Part two of the Ode to the Bean trilogy recipe is an asparagus-bean salad with lemon vinaigrette. Its crispy lemon-panko topping is pretty special, if I don't say so myself. It makes a great side dish, but we ate it as our main course and loved it.

To bring you up to speed, last week I cooked up one pound of Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca beans. My objective was to create three unique recipes that wouldn't having us hating beans by the end of the week. The three recipes-- today's lemony asparagus-bean salad, along with pasta with beans and mushrooms, and brothy beans-and-greens bowl-- resulted in three distinct, tasty success stories.

pot of beans cooking
Cooking the pot of beans with aromatic celery, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf

What's so exciting about starting with dried beans?

I waxed on about the joys of beans in the first post, so today, let's talk size.

Some beans are tiny and others are huge. Think of beans like you think of all the different pasta shapes-- each one holds a special charm depending on what it is you want to prepare or serve them with. There's a bean for every liking and situation.

The huge Corona weighs the same as 19 wee Alubia Blancas

In case you're wondering, it takes 19 Alubia Blancas to reach the weight of one Corona bean, which happens to be 3 grams. These are the kind of things I nerd out on!

I'll say it again-- it's hard to be bored when you have a world of beans to explore.

Growers + Makers Wine Notes:

A favorite of ours, Artisanal Wine Cellars 2013 Adams Old Vine Reserve is a graceful representative of Oregon Pinot Noir. This wine was grown in the Chehalem Mountains, and is a food-friendly delight as much as it is an ethereal sipper. Notes of mineral, forest floor, and soft cherry carry through.

The soft tannins in this wine work just fine with the raw asparagus. I would think twice about putting it together with cooked asparagus.

For the Lemony-Asparagus-Bean Salad, you'll start with a pot of cooked beans. No one can describe how to do this easy, basic step better than the folks at Rancho Gordo, so allow me to make that introduction. "Rancho Gordo, meet my friend. Friend. . . Rancho Gordo."

Ingredients you'll need

This almost no-cook dish comes together in minutes. (The panko topping is quickly crisped up in a skillet in about 5 minutes.) Here's where the value of cooking the beans earlier in the week comes! It's not often you run across ideas for raw asparagus, and I'm not sure why-- it's a perfect salad ingredient. Gluten-free and dairy-free options are noted in the recipe.

Next up we'll wrap up the Ode to Beans trilogy with the Beans, Greens, and Pork recipe. Be well, friends.

asparagus bean salad on black plate

Lemony Asparagus-Bean Salad with Crispy Lemon Topping

Course: Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Crunchy thinly-sliced raw asparagus and creamy white beans in a simple lemon vinaigrette, with crispy panko and sharp Parmesan curls, on the table in 15 minutes.
Print Recipe


For the Salad

  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 bunch asparagus, thick stems peeled, thinly sliced on a sharp diagonal
  • 1 green onion or green garlic stalk, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Crispy Lemon Topping

  • ½ cup panko, regular of gluten-free
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • zest of one lemon (reserved from above)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 ounces shaved Parmesan (omit for dairy-free option)


For the Salad

  • Prep the asparagus, the green onion or green garlic, and the chives. In a mixing bowl, combine the prepared vegetables, white beans, and herbs with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving bowl or platter.

For the Crispy Lemon Topping

  • Heat the olive oil to medium-high heat in a small skillet. Add the panko and stir to coat it evenly with the oil. (It will absorb the oil, leaving very little at all in the pan.) Flatten the panko out across the bottom of the pan, and leave it to toast for about 45-60 seconds before stirring. Repeat until the crumbs are thoroughly toasted to a medium brown, being careful not to burn the crumbs. This should take 5 minutes or less.
  • Place the crumbs in a small bowl. Stir for a minute or two to cool them slightly. Add a pinch of salt and the grated lemon zest, stirring to incorporate the zest throughout. The slight warmth of the crumbs will make the zest very fragrant.
  • Spoon the crispy lemon topping over the salad. Shave the Parmesan with a vegetable peeler, and place the Parmesan curls over the salad to serve.


Make it Your Own:
Try fresh mint or other herbs instead of or with the chives.

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You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

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