White Bean and Arugula Salad — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
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Mother's Day is always a touch bittersweet for me because I live a country away from my own mom. I moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Ore., in my early 20s, intending to stay just a couple of years. Instead I made friends, went to grad school and eventually met my husband. As much as I miss the West Coast, Philly has become home.

So these days I celebrate Mother's Day by packing up a box of goodies, shipping it to my mom and scheduling a Sunday morning Skype date so I can "be" there while she opens it up.

The distance doesn't stop me from planning an imaginary Mother’s Day meal. (Other people play fantasy sports. I fantasy meal plan.) To start, I'd put out some softened chevre, a few baguette rounds and a jar of rhubarb chutney. The main event would be a roast chicken with lemon, and with it I'd serve Ina Garten's White Bean and Arugula Salad, good crusty bread from a local bakery and some broiled asparagus.

The thing I like about the bean salad is that it's hearty without being heavy, and it's the kind of dish that performs equally well regardless of whether you're serving brunch, lunch or an early supper.

And even if you’re not cooking up a Mother's Day feast, consider making those beans. You start with dried beans and end up with a dish that is tender and highly flavorful — perfect for The Weekender!

Before you start cooking, read these tips:

— Make sure to get your beans into some soaking water the night before you plan on cooking.

— When the beans are finished cooking, you'll have 3 to 4 cups of oniony bean broth left over. Hold back a cup of the beans, get a bit of cooked pasta and stir both into that broth for instant soup.

— Want to make this a meat-free dish? Leave out the prosciutto and stir in a bit of grated Parmesan cheese at the very end.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available.

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