We should probably preface this article and recipe by explaining why this dish is technically a bean salad but referred to as cannellini relish. We mean relish in the old European form of the world, not the American form of relish that is usually that bright radioactive green pickle relish that get slathered onto hot dogs so often.
The best way to explain this relish is that it is much like the Spanish have salsa and use it to dress any number of food items. This relish is of Italian descent, and is used to dress meats, bread, or can even be eaten all by itself as its own salad. In our home, we make very large batches of this dish and it makes an appearance in almost every meal that we make — sometimes as a relish for other items, and other times just as a side salad. With that being said, lets get to this delicious and healthy recipe…
First off, the cannellini beans are really the star of this dish, adding a protein that soaks up all the delicious dressing and marinates in it. We always use canned cannellini beans — as it is much easier this way — but feel free to cook the cannellini beans from a dry state if you’d like. Canned cannellini beans can be found in almost every grocery store, though sometimes they are just called white beans.
- 4 Large Stalks of Celery
- 3-4 Large Carrots
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 3 Tablespoons of Chopped Garlic
- 4 Large Roma Tomatoes
- 2 Large Onions (Red or White)
- 1 Serrano Pepper
- 2 Cans of Cannellini Beans
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Good Olive Oil
- 2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
This is an extremely easy recipe to prepare, and most of the prep time comes from cutting the vegetables into their correct sizes to allow them to stay a bit crisp, but soak up all of the flavor from the vinaigrette dressing. Below you will find out to slice all of the vegetables perfectly for this recipe…
Slice the Carrots
First skin the carrots with your peeler and nip the ends off at each end. At a slight angle cut the carrot as thinly as you can, so that the pieces look like little coins. If your knife skills are lacking, you can always use a kitchen mandolin to get perfect slices every time.
Slice the Celery
Firs separate the ribs of celery and rinse them under cold water — making sure to get all of the dirt and grit. Again, at an angle slice the celery very thinly. These thin slices of celery give a nice crisp snap that compliments the soft cannellini bites.
Dice the Tomatoes
First Slice off the top of the tomato where the stem originally was and then cut the tomato in half lengthwise. Using your hand, rip out all or the seed and “guts” of the tomato so that you are left with to hollow halves of only the tomato meat inside of the skin (they should look like hollowed out boats). Next slice the halves into thin strips, rotate 90 degrees and slice thinly again to make little cubes of pure tomato meat.
Slice the Onions
Whether you use red, yellow or even white onions is completely up to you. Some find red onions to be too strong, so we often tone it down with yellow onions — especially for the kids. First slice the top and bottom off of the onions, cut in half lengthwise and slice the onions into thin strips as shown in the picture above.
First off, make sure you get Seranno peppers and not jalapeno peppers. They look almost identical but the serranos are much milder than the jalapenos which are far to spice for this light and delicate dish. To put it in salsa terms, bell peppers are mild, serranos are medium, and jalapenos are fiery hot sauce. All you have to do is (very thinly) slice the pepper into little coins, seeds and all. The thinner you slice these the better, as if you bite down on a big chunk of serrano, you are going to get a lot of spice that overwhelms the mouth.
Prepare the Vinaigrette
We did not give exact measurements for the oil and the vinegar in the ingredients list for a reason; that reason is the amount of vinaigrette you need can fluctuate between batches, as some cannellini and vegetables soak up more vinaigrette and more quickly than other batches. The dressing, unfortunately, really needs to be “eye-balled” to get the best results. The magic ratio for vinaigrette is 1 to 3. One part vinegar to two parts oil. Using a blender or a stick blender, add the Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon (out of the 3 total for this recipe) of chopped garlic, dill, garlic powder and onion powder and vinegar together. turn on the blender and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, allowing the mixture to froth itself into an emulsion. Remember the 1 to 3 ratio!
Combine All Ingredients Together
This recipe makes quite an amount of the relish, so when mixing everything together, we have found that using a large soup pot is best. First, open and drain the cans of cannellini beans and add it to the pot. Next add all of your chopped vegetables and the remaining garlic; after that, simply drizzle your vinaigrette over all of the ingredients and mix well — so that all of the ingredients are coated with the vinaigrette. The last thing you need to do is to tuck 1 whole bay leaf into the mixture and let it work its magic on the mixture.
Let It Marinate
Your Cannellini Relish Salad is now technically complete, however the longer the mixture marinates, the more flavor the vegetables soak up. When making this recipe, we usually allow the mixture to marinate in the soup pot — refrigerated — overnight. After giving it a good stir the next day, it is ready to eat. The longer you let these vegetables marinate, the better they get.
Well there you have it; the recipe is complete. Like we said in the beginning, this is often used as a relish that adds flavor to anything from meats to rice to bread and beyond. We, ourselves, have used this on everything from wraps to topped on sirloin grilled steak… so don’t be afraid of mixing this relish into other dishes, and feel free to explore how it compliments other dishes, proteins and recipes.
Enjoy, and check back often for our latest and most delicious recipes.