Warm Cannellini Bean Salad with Roasted Tomato and Fennel

I've been holding on to this lovely bean salad recipe since August, and I'm sorry about that. I had intended to post it while I was on vacation, but our lack of reliable wifi for the majority of the trip put the kibosh on that grand plan.

This was one of the dishes I served during a weekend as the guest chef for a yoga retreat up at Good Commons this summer. It was a vegetarian and mostly-gluten-free farm-to-table retreat, which I really enjoyed as it forced me out of my comfort zone (read: cake + bacon + Fresh Direct), and pushed me to create new and exciting dishes that were just as satisfying without the meat.

I was actually pretty pleased with all the dishes I made, and this one--which started out as an accident--ended up being one of my favorites.

This salad was originally going to be a large platter of roasted seasonal vegetables.

But I got a little...distracted, and by the time I remembered the sheet pans full of vegetables in the oven, 1/2 of them were charred to a crisp. I salvaged what I could, and it was nowhere near enough to serve to a large group of 20, so I started hunting around for things I could mix it into.

Hence, the cannellini beans. I tossed the beans with the roasted veggies and a bit of garlic olive oil, and the results were delicious.

I mean, really unexpectedly wonderful. Such simple ingredients, but man, what a killer final dish.

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Warm Cannellini Bean Salad with Roasted Tomato and Fennel

8 large plum tomatoes, quartered
2 medium red onions, cut into 1" chunks
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces (reserve some of the fronds as a garnish)
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the chopped tomatoes, onions, and fennel out on 2 baking sheets and drizzle generously with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper, and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and caramelized at the edges.

While the vegetables roast, combine 1/3 cup olive oil and the garlic cloves in a small saucepan over very low heat. Let the garlic gently simmer in the oil, until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove the cloves and set the oil aside.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, hot roasted vegetables, and garlic oil. Add the vinegar and toss to combine. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Garnish with some of the fennel fronds, and serve.

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