Warm Tarbais Bean Salad with Walnut Oil Recipe

Salade Tiède de Haricots Tarbais à l'Huile de Noix

[Warm Tarbais Bean Salad with Walnut Oil]

The 11th edition of Is My Blog Burning?, the world-famous collaborative food blogging event, is hosted by Cathy and her theme of choice is Beans!

For my contribution, it seemed only fitting that I use the prince of beans, a.k.a Le Haricot Tarbais. Originally brought back from the New World in the 16th century, this white kidney-shaped bean is now grown specifically in the region of Tarbes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées. It is the only bean protected by a Label Rouge and a regional appelation, that guarantee its production method and quality.

The Haricot Tarbais has an exceptionally thin skin which underlines its soft and non-mealy texture, but still allows it to keep its shape while cooking (and makes it easier to digest, too). The richness and acidity of the soil, as well as the mix of mountain and ocean climates it grows in, result in a very subtle and unique taste.

Tarbais beans can be bought fresh, semi-dry or dry: the dry ones are usually sold at about 12 euros a kilo, making them a miniature luxury. They are much appreciated in a variety of local dishes (cassoulet, garbure…), and were more recently brought back into the limelight by a few famed chefs.

The interesting thing about the Tarbais bean is that the plant has a way of growing and blossoming that makes mecanical harvesting impossible: only the human hand will do. In the sixties, its culture was progressively abandoned because it was too costly. A few patches thankfully remained in the back of farms, harvested by the farmer’s family for their own consumption. In the eighties however, a few local farmers decided to bring the tradition back to life, and started lobbying for the proper protection of the Tarbais bean, which finally led to the creation of the Label Rouge.

I had bought a bag of these precious dry beans at G.Detou a little while back, and since this was my first time cooking with them, I decided to go for a no-frills recipe that would showcase their taste and texture in the most simple way: a warm salad sounded like a good idea on a winter night. It turned out delightfully satisfying, the peppery rucola teasing the beans’ softness, and the walnut oil dressing a great match to their nutty flavor. This will be great served as a first course, or as a side to duck or game.

Salade Tiède de Haricots Tarbais à l’Huile de Noix

– 240 g (2 C) dry Tarbais beans
– 120 g (4 C) rucola (a.k.a roquette, rocket or arugula), rinsed and dried
– a handful of flat parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped
– 1 Tbsp walnut oil
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tsp old-fashioned mustard
– salt, pepper

Soak the beans in twice their volume of cold water for ten hours. Drain and transfer the beans in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for an hour, until the beans are soft (some beans may take a little longer to cook, up to an hour and a half, check the package instructions). Add in salt after half an hour of simmering. You may need to add more water as the beans drink it up.

In a medium salad bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar, then the oils. When the beans are cooked, drain and let cool for five minutes. Transfer into the salad bowl, add in the parsley and rucola, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

  • PJ

    Some things just make me sad … for instance, you created this wonderful blog way back in September 2003 and I’ve just now discovered it! So much wasted time! I’ve been struggling with my own blog, and since I adore food (obviously you do as well) I have decided to give my blog a major overhaul and focus on food and cooking. I’m an author of educational books but food is my passion. In December, I self-published and released a cookbook called “Welcome Home: Recipes, Memories, and Traditions from the Heart.” Upon discovering your delightful blog, you have truly inspired me, Clotilde. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Wow, Clotilde those beans look really good. I wonder if you can get those beans in Canada?

  • Alisa

    It’s a true toss up…enjoying the cooking aspect, or the history aspect of your writing. Knowing the history enriches the gastronomy. Thank you so so much.

  • Clotilde – your salad sounds delicious, and your post is fascinating! I’m afraid I don’t stand a chance of finding these beans anywhere near me (I searched on-line, but to no avail). While hunting around, I found something that said flageolets made a good substitute for Tarbais – would you agree? Thanks so much for participating in IMBB 11!

  • Michael

    My father used to grow flageolet beans in his own garden. They also have a soft and delicate taste. From what I can see in the picture Tarbais beans are a lot bigger. Think of Flageolets as being slightly bigger than the seeds in Haricot Verts.

  • Hi Clotilde, what an elegant dish! I always learn something new when I visit your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Congratulations!
    You are nominated for the Bloggies :)


  • Chef Asterix

    Un vrais chef d’oeuvre!
    Merci bien!
    Congrats on an excellent blog!
    Tried your recipe with local white Goliath beans (after boiling they are some 15 to 20 mms each).
    :)) Yummy!

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