Why This Recipe Works
- After chopping vegetables, this appetizer takes only five minutes to put together.
- It's worth splurging on the best beans, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and paprika for this simple dish.
I love hors d'oeuvres. Not just because I love how they taste—hors d'oeuvres tend to be more concentrated in flavor than appetizers or main courses—but because they offer me respite. It's amazing what a board of tasty little bites set out right when your dinner guests arrive can do in terms of kicking off conversations and filling in would-be awkward silences.
Olives, cheese, and nuts are all nice and easy, but the real trick to a well-planned hors d'oeuvre spread is to keep a few incredibly simple, incredibly quick, flavor-packed recipes up your sleeve. This is one of those. Once you've got the vegetables chopped and beans drained, it takes all of five minutes to throw together and can be served warm or at room temperature. You can even make it the day before, pull it out and zap it in the microwave for 45 seconds when your guests arrive.
This white bean salad was inspired by three things. The first was an incredible chickpea and morcilla sausage salad that my wife Adri and I ate early one morning at Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria, Barcelona's most famous food market. We arrived at around 9 a.m., which is a good hour before any reasonable Spaniard is out and about on the streets. Fortunately, Pinotxo was open, the cava was already flowing, and they'd just put out a big batch of their signature chickpea salad. It was served warm in a small bowl, seasoned with little bits of onion, celery, and parsley, a big glug of amazing extra-virgin olive oil, and a spritz of sherry vinegar.
"I loved them enough that I brought back a few bags of the dried beans to cook for myself at home whenever the urge struck."
The second inspiration was a dish we ate in Segovia in central Spain. It's a town that's mildly famous for its stunning Roman aqueducts, but even more famous for its roast suckling pig. If I had my way, I'd make it even more famous still for the side dish they serve with that suckling pig: giant lima beans (locally called judías), simmered in a tomato- and olive oil-based broth until creamy and tender. I loved them enough that I brought back a few bags of the dried beans to cook for myself at home whenever the urge struck.
In retrospect, it did seem a little odd to me that my two favorite and most memorable bites of food in Spain were both legume-based, but I'm a bean-lover at heart. It was also telling that in a land full of excellent high-quality meat and seafood, it was the vegetables that struck me the most. If it weren't for the bits of morcilla in the chickpea dish (and the morcilla was strictly a non-essential flourish), both would have been 100% vegan as well.
That's probably why I thought of both of those dishes when I ran across a jar of cooked giant lima beans at an Italian import market in San Francisco's Mission District; there's that third inspiration. I'd always made my versions at home with dried beans, but I wondered if I could pack enough flavor into a sauce that it'd work with already-cooked beans as well.
Normally when I'm making a bean salad inspired by our time in Spain, I'll pick one of the dishes we ate. This time, I figured why not stick elements from both in there? It was a wise decision. I start this salad by heating a bit of tomato paste in some extra virgin olive oil along with some minced garlic and shallots. The goal is really just to get the paste incorporated and to very gently remove some of the raw sharpness from the garlic. I barely cook it at all—about a minute in a skillet over medium heat.
Next, some smoked Spanish paprika goes in along with the drained, rinsed beans, some celery, a splash of sherry vinegar, a handful of parsley, and some more fresh extra-virgin olive oil (you can never have too much good olive oil). I'd tell you that there's a next step but I'd be lying. Once all the ingredients are mixed together and warm, you're ready to eat.
And thus, a new staple on my Easy Hors D'oeuvres list is born, and a vegan one at that!
Warm Spanish-Style Giant-Bean Salad With Smoked Paprika and Celery Recipe
The best ingredients make this five-minute appetizer shine.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
2 stalks celery, peeled and cut on a bias into 1/4-inch slices
1 (15-ounce) jar or can of large cooked beans such as gigantes, giant lima beans, giant white beans, or butter beans, drained and rinsed (see notes)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread for serving
Combine 2 tablespoon olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, and shallot in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and starting to bubble gently, about 2 minutes. Stir in smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Add celery, drained beans, vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Cook until barely warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Large beans can be found in the bean section of a well-stocked supermarket. You can also find them in specialty Italian, Greek, or Spanish import markets. This dish can also be made with dried beans: Soak 1 cup of dried beans in a large bowl of salted water overnight at room temperature. Rinse the beans and cook them in salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, spread into a single layer on a towel-lined baking sheet, and let them cool. Proceed with recipe as directed.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 14g||18%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||10%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||21%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||28%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|