Without a garden tomato in sight, there’s already enough basil in my raised beds to warrant pesto.
I tend to think of pesto as one of summer’s fullest expressions — a sauce to complement everything from steamed green beans and fingerling potatoes to pasta of all varieties. Except we still lack the green beans or potatoes, as well as the aforementioned tomatoes. So some creativity with this condiment is in order.
Canned cannellini beans are one of my summer mealtime mainstays. When the spotlight is on fresh produce, these white kidney beans lend a light protein component with a flavor profile that complements just about anything but particularly Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
Together, pesto and cannellini beans carry this salad of spinach and/or arugula that steps outside the norm a bit with its crouton derived from hunks of “everything” bagel. I became aware of “everything bagel” seasoning within the past couple of years as another of Trader Joe’s expensive blends. Find it in double the quantity for half the price at Food 4 Less in Medford.
If you don’t have everything bagels on hand but have purchased the seasoning, you could simply substitute any hearty bread for the croutons and double the quantity of spice blend called for here.
EVERYTHING BAGEL SALAD
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons, divided
1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt, to taste
1 everything bagel, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
6 cups baby spinach or arugula, or a mix of both
1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Everything Bagel spice blend
- In a blender or food processor, combine the basil leaves, pine nuts, grated Parmesan, lemon zest, juice of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup of the olive oil; pulse until smooth but still a bit chunky, for about 1 minute. Add a little more olive oil if it seems too thick. Taste and add the pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and kosher salt as needed. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add the bagel pieces and cook, tossing occasionally, until crispy and toasted, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the beans, 1/3 cup pesto, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining lemon juice, the vinegar and a pinch each of sea salt and red pepper flakes.
- Add the salad greens, shaved Parmesan and Everything Bagel spice; toss to combine. Divide salad among 4 bowls and top with bagel croutons.
Makes 4 servings.
— Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Half Baked Harvest Super Simple” by Tieghan Gerard (Clarkson Potter; October 2019).