TUSCANY-STYLE BEAN SALAD
4 to 6 servings
Tuscan bean salad is very common on antipasto menus and tables in Tuscany. The flavors are very Tuscan and the salad may be served at room temperature or chilled. Traditionally dried beans would be used and cooked for hours for this recipe, but most people don't want the extra time of preparation today.
In a medium bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Add balsamic vinegar, and toss lightly but gently to mix but not break-up beans. Drizzle desired amount of olive oil over bean mixture and toss again to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish top of salad or each serving with pine nuts just before serving. May serve at room temperature or chilled, as desired. May accompany with toasted thin slices of baguette bread, if desired.
Variations: Garnish salad mixture with freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.
Add 3 ounces coarsely chopped proscuitto or salami of choice to salad mixture.
Add shredded provolone cheese to salad mixture.
Add ½ cup finely snipped fresh basil leaves (no stems) to salad.