I prepared this as a buffet side dish for my sister-in-law Kate’s baby shower in Bangkok in March 2007, and several times since. The recipe comes from the book Perfect Party Food by Diane Phillips, “the Diva of Do-Ahead.” She recommends cooking the beans yourself, but in a pinch you can use canned, which you will need to drain and rinse.
2 cups (1 pound) dried small white beans
8 cups water
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup finely chopped shallots
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Cherry tomatoes for garnish
1. Combine the beans and water in a 6- to 8-quart pot, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.
2. Pour off the water and cover the beans with another batch of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
3. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, add the rosemary, red pepper flakes, and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes; don’t let the garlic brown. Remove the oil from the heat and let cool to room temperature. The rosemary and garlic will infuse into the oil, creating an absolutely mind-blowing aroma.
4. Pour some of the rosemary-garlic oil over the beans and toss together to coat the beans well. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the vinegar, shallots, and half the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary, adding more oil, salt, and/or pepper.
* DIVA DO-AHEAD: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or leave at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
5. Toss the salad, adding more rosemary-garlic oil if necessary. Just before serving, fold in the remaining parsley and garnish with the tomatoes