This is a veganized, almost no-fat, version of a recipe that I found on Epicurious. For the original recipe and reviews click here. This salad is truly a one dish meal. The flavors are so wonderful that all it needs is some balsamic vinegar for dressing. Anything more tastes like overkill to me. I also baked some mini-loaves of bread to go with it, but the salad alone was plenty.
Spinach and White Bean Salad
Makes 4 main dish servings or 8 side dish servings.
1 1/2 cups dried white beans (navy or canellini)
olive oil spray
1 yellow onion, finely chopped or sliced
5 ounce bag of washed, baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, not oil packed
15-20 garlic cloves, peeled*
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
freshly ground black pepper
Prior to preparing your salad, soak the beans for 8-12 hours, then cook them on low for 6-8 hours in a crockpot. (I usually do this the night before I plan to prepare my salad.) The slow cooking will allow the beans to maintain their shape and will produce a wonderful flavor that just cannot be replicated by canned beans. When the beans are done cooking, gently drain them and rinse them with cold water. Set aside to cool completely.
Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a small oven safe covered casserole dish with olive oil spray. Place garlic cloves in dish, then cover and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool when done.
While the garlic is cooking, spray a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden. Set aside.
In a large salad bowl, gently combine all ingredients. This salad stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days as long as it is covered tightly and not dressed with vinegar until served.
*To save time in last minute preparation, buy freshly peeled garlic cloves and cook garlic, onions, and/or beans a day or so in advance.