Pulses – beans, lentils etc… – are some of the most versatile ingredients in your pantry. There is virtually no end to the number of dishes that can be prepared with a handful of beans; stews, casseroles, even brownies. But what is often overlooked is how great they are straight from the can. Unadulterated. Ready in just 5 minutes, this Chive, Tomato and Cannellini Bean Salad recipe demonstrates just how good a hassle-free bean can be.
It’s fair to say that cannellini beans have something of a mild flavour, but it’s one that can be put to excellent use. Subtly nutty and inherently creamy in texture, they are most at home with just a few simple ingredients; fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil work particularly well.
Nutritionally, cannellini beans are a truly healthy source of protein because they have such a low glycemic index, relative even to other legumes. What that means is that any energy you take on board is unlikely to be stored as fat. Why do you think I eat so many beans and lentils? Their nutritional value speaks for itself, and they fit well into a frugal lifestyle.
Having said that, you’ll likely realise that tinned beans are slightly more expensive than their raw, dried counterparts. Despite this, I’d urge you not to boil up your own for a salad; the method is far more effective for a slow cooked dish like a French cassoulet. Home boiled beans tend to be less attractive and never quite achieve the desired texture.
Because of their fluffy consistency, you’ll usually find that recipes with cannellini beans – or salads, at least – work very well with fresh ingredients like tomatoes and chives. Serving to convey some much needed acidity, a handful of lovingly-grown British plum tomatoes will go an awfully long way. And a tablespoon or two of chives is almost always a good idea.
Chive, Tomato and Cannellini Bean Salad
- 400g tin of cannellini beans
- 150g baby plum tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and toss together with the tomatoes, chives, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Serve.
Cost: A simple cannellini bean salad like this is an inexpensive one; pulses are generally regarded as some of the most frugal ingredients available. Quality British plum tomatoes are likely to be relatively more expensive, but a greater spend is absolutely justified in this case. All things considered, this salad for two should set you back no more than £1.60.