Canned beans are rarely thought of as luxurious. Economical? Sure. Convenient? Absolutely. But they’re not exactly the kind of thing that pops in your head when you’re planning a fancy holiday soirée. They should be though, particularly if that party is this evening, and you forgot you were supposed to make something for it. With just a few kitchen staples, and a handful of fresh herbs, you can turn a couple of cans of boring beans into a party-worthy appetiser.
You’re just doing a quick marinade, so you don’t exactly need a recipe, but you want a good balance of flavours. First, choose your beans. Two cans should be enough. You can do all one bean, or you can do a mixture. White beans, black eyed peas, and garbanzo beans all work well. Drain and rinse your beans, and let them dry in a colander while you assemble the dressing.
You can’t go wrong with a nice olive oil, but walnut oil and pistachio oil are fun too. You can even combine oils—a splash of sesame oil can add some nice depth—just aim for 1/3 of a cup total. Next, add some alliums to your oil.
A diced shallot and two or three cloves of minced garlic work well, but this is also a good opportunity to use up any green onions that are languishing in your fridge (especially the white parts). If you’ve got any olives, bell peppers, or cooked mushrooms, go ahead and chop those up and toss ‘em in.
Add your alliums and any other aromatics you desire to the oil, and season with at least a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, maybe more depending on whether or not your beans came salted in the can. Splash in a couple of tablespoons of some sort of acid (either vinegar or citrus juice) and grate in some citrus zest if you like (about half a lemon’s worth will do, but you could up it to a whole if you really like lemon). You can also add some chilli flakes to taste if you like spicy beans. Let that all infuse for about five minutes, then combine with beans.
Mix in half a cup of your favourite fresh herbs, reserving a couple of tablespoons for garnish, and serve. If you’re a planner, you can make marinated beans a couple of days; they only get better with time.