I bought a large hunk of Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese about, oh...five days ago. We're talking a seriously large hunk here.
Despite its imposing size, I've managed to whittle said hunk down to about a quarter of its former dinosaurian glory over the past week. I'd come home hungry and "nibble" (gobble) a few pieces; I packed a couple slices in my lunch to supplement my leftover-tofu-and-pasta (I need calcium!); occasionally I'd have a cheese nightcap just before bed. So you can see how my cheddar mountain was soon made into a molehill.
It was precisely because of my cheesy transgressions that I wanted to cook something vegetarian, healthy, and preferably dairy-free (aside from a little butter - but a little butter never hurt anybody). This dovetailed nicely with my recent preoccupation with a post I saw on 101cookbooks.com - a carrot, dill, and white bean salad. I absolutely love everything renowned blogger and cookbook author Heidi Swanson says, does, cooks, or eats, so I was excited to whip up a quick and nutritious homage to her.
Trader Joe's - always unpredictable - did not have dill, so I used my beloved parsley instead. Other than that, I didn't really alter her recipe except to combine it with an idea from another one of her posts, which was to serve it over a bed of spinach while it was hot, making the spinach leaves wilt ever so slightly. Voila - a perfectly easy, simple, inexpensive, and healthy meal.
CARROT & WHITE BEAN SALAD OVER SPINACH
handful raw baby spinach leaves
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1/4 white onion, finely diced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
1 can white kidney (cannellini) beans
freshly chopped parsley
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
2 T. honey
more olive oil if you need it
baguette and butter for serving (optional)
Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the shallots and onion until they begin to soften, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add the carrot, and cook until all three ingredients have some color, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, drain and thoroughly rinse the beans. Set aside. Arrange the spinach leaves on a plate or serving platter.
Add the lemon juice, parsley, some more seasoning, the beans, honey, and some almonds to the pan. Give it a shake. Let it cook for a few more minutes. Pour the contents of the pan over the spinach leaves (or spoon it out if you're doing it in individual servings), and top with a little more parsley and almonds. Enjoy!
This came out so wonderfully. I can't say I'm really surprised, since everything Heidi does is perfect and glorious, but I don't think I ever would have come up with this dish on my own. It's so simple and rustic, but so perfectly balanced. It would make an excellent side dish for salmon or roasted chicken, and I'm sure it's great chilled (as I'll find out tomorrow). I really don't think I'd change a thing - although I'm excited to try this again when I can actually get my hands on some dill.
Thanks for reading! More soon...