Warm Bean Winter Salad with Kale Pesto

I’m not sure if it’s planetary movements or if the Winter just feels a little too long – but nevertheless, I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump lately. In need of an escape, I went away over the recent long weekend and while there, I did a little foraging. I made an amazing green soup – whose ingredients were largely things we’d consider weeds and it inspired me to try and add a little bit more dark leafy greens to my food. I froze the soup and the extra leaves I had, so we’re going to try to do a post on it soon too – but for now, BEANS and leaves!

It’s so easy to eat green leaves in abundance in Summer as they’re easily slipped into a salad – but in this cold, a salad is the furthest thing from my mind.

And I guess that brings to question, is a salad a salad if it’s warm? Well, here we are, with a warm salad wiggling its way into our thoughts and as many greens as we could cram into it too. This Warm Bean Winter Salad with Kale Pesto is hearty, filling, packed with ingredients and most important of all, its served warm!

The whole dish comes together in less than 30minutes, making it a wonderful weeknight dinner to whip up. All there is to do is process the pesto ingredients, flash fry the beans and baby spinach, garnish and you’re ready to eat.

Kale is a wonderful leaf and has been given so much praise over the years for good reason. Rich in vitamins K, A and C, along with other vital nutrients, the health benefits of kale include detoxification and heart support. It’s another member of the helpful cruciferous vegetable family (which we chatted about last week too).

Although pesto ordinarily contains basil, the herb feels a little too much like it belongs with a caprese in Italy and unfortunately, we’re just not there. Paired with lemon, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts, all of the usual pesto flavours are there and you’ll hardly miss the basil and gain in nutrients. 

Many bean varieties are well-known for helping with weigh-loss too. One reason is that they act as alpha-amylase inhibitors (I had to google what that was). On a very practical note, white beans/cannellini beans have a very low-calorie count while helping you to feel full. They’re wonderfully high in fibre and are even said to contain skin-protecting ferulic acid.

Pair this with the nutty, protein-packed pumpkin seeds, a zesty bit of citrus zest and some pomegranate gems; and this bowl is going to help you get ready for Spring. I just know it.

Warm Bean Winter Salad with Kale Pesto
Servings: 6
Author: Give a Fork
  • 1 Orange zested, and juiced
  • 1 tin White Beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 15 grams Fresh Parsley roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Pomegranate Rubies
Kale Pesto
  • 1 Lemon juiced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 2 cups Kale
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil extra virgin
Kale Pesto
  1. Place all your ingredients in a high-speed blender and pulse until smooth. If you find the mixture to be too thick, add a little bit of water and pulse again. Keep repeating until the desired consistency is reached.

Bean Salad
  1. To a medium sized bowl add your drained and rinsed beans, along with your chopped parsley and orange zest and half the juice. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Stir well to combine and distribute the parsley evenly.

  3. Place a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat and add your beans, heat through for 1 minute.

  4. Next, add your baby spinach and stir through, allowing the spinach to wilt only slightly. Once the spinach starts wilting, remove from heat and set aside.

  5. * Using the same pan, add your pumpkin seeds and dry toast for 2-3 minutes or until they're fragrant and start popping. Remove from heat and set aside until serving. 

  6. To plate; using a basting brush streak some of the kale pesto across your plate or bowl, next add a generous spoonful of your beans, top with your roasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate rubies. Season with salt and pepper, and a final squeeze of orange juice.

  7. Enjoy immediately, while still warm

Recipe Notes
  • This is an optional step and adds some extra crunch to your warm bean salad.
  • If you choose to store leftovers, make sure to keep your toasted pumpkin seeds separate to keep them from softening. The salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2- 3 days. To reheat, either place the beans back on the stove top to heat through or alternatively microwave for 1-2 minutes.