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My Salad with Navy Beans, Goat Cheese, Grape Tomatoes and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette is a light summer dinner recipe. It’s more of a meal than a salad.
After all, in the dog days of summer, isn’t it wonderful to have a nice, cool salad for dinner sometimes? This one’s so good, you’l want to enjoy it all summer long!
Salad with Navy Beans is a Symphony of Flavors and Textures
I first had this salad 16 years ago, and have been making it several times each summer, ever since. I am not stuck in a rut. It is just THAT good. I crave this light, yet satisfying summer salad every year.
The tanginess of the goat cheese, and the way it softens and yields under the heat of the warm bacon vinaigrette, (think creaminess) and the acidity of that vinaigrette, that cuts through the fat and keeps it from being too heavy. The salt and smokiness of the bacon. The creamy savoriness of the navy beans. The juicy sweetness of a sun ripened cherry tomato. The crispness of the lettuce and the warm crunchy yet chewy texture of a homemade crouton that’s been bathed in olive oil. (Are you getting the picture?)
This salad is a symphony of flavors and textures, and it’s perfect as a main course on a hot summer night.
Do You Cook Your Own Navy Beans From Dried Beans?
I do cook my own navy beans, from dried beans, and here’s why. When you cook your own beans, you can control the amount of salt in them, and add in any additional flavors you’d like, like garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, for example.
HOWEVER, if you’re in a hurry, or you’d like a way to fix this that’s a bit more convenient, feel free to use canned, drained beans. Your salad will be delicious, too.
Can I Use Store Bought Croutons?
Don’t even think about using (poser) store bought croutons. A great salad deserves a crouton made from great bread. It’s the difference between night and day.
The original recipe came from Food & Wine magazine in July of 1996, but I’ve altered it through the years to suit my family’s tastes.
Summer is flying by: you deserve this lusciousness! Go for it!
The Recipe for Salad with Navy Beans, Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Croutons, and Warm Bacon Dressing
- 1 c. dried navy beans, picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 T. salt
- 2 c. Tuscan or Italian or peasant bread, cut into 3/4" cubes
- 2 T. + 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 lb. thick-sliced bacon
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 3 T. Champagne vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 lb. salad greens (I use the spring mix blend)
- 1/2 c. any variety cherry tomatoes (any variety: I have used grape tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, heirloom mini-tomatoes, and mini-pearls), halved
- 1/4 lb. mild goat cheese, crumbled into 1" pieces
- TO COOK THE BEANS: When I soak my beans, I soak them in a brine containing about 3 T. salt to 4 qts. of water. Soak them overnight in the brine. When you're ready to cook, drain the brine off the beans, rinse the beans, and in a medium saucepan, combine the soaked beans with the bay leaf, garlic and 4 c. of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover partially, and simmer the beans until tender but not mushy, about 1 hr and a half. Drain the beans and let cool to room temperature.Discard the bay leaf and the garlic.
- TO MAKE THE CROUTONS: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350º. Toss the bread cubes with 2 t. of olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden but not dry.
- TO MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE: In a cast iron skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. I fry my bacon in my oven: 400º for 15-20 minutes will about do it.) Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the remaining 2 T. of the olive oil to the fat in the skillet. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, till shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the beans, broken up bits of bacon, toasted croutons and tomatoes. Add the dressing and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently but thoroughly. Serve immediately.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 4076mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gProtein: 17g
What’s your favorite light summer meal?