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Crown a bowl of beans with jewel-toned salad for a fresh, flavorful meal

The salad brings a colorful and crisp tartness to comforting bean stew.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
The salad brings a colorful and crisp tartness to comforting bean stew. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special To The Washington Post

Move over “put an egg on it” – and make way for “top it with a salad.”

Just like a fried egg atop just about anything transforms it into a craveable meal (the trend has a popular Instagram hashtag to prove it), a heap of salad piled onto just about anything refreshes it instantly with a modern, healthful sensibility. Mound arugula salad on top of a slice of pizza, and presto, you have a stunning, balanced plate. Stack dressed greens onto a platform of grilled chicken breast to invert the usual presentation from boring to alluring. Layer avocado toast with a feathery pile of frisée to take it to new heights, in every sense of the word.

That’s the idea behind this dish, where a crisp, jewel-toned salad crowns a warm, white bean stew for a simple but splendid meal in a bowl.

It’s very weeknight-friendly, since the stew uses canned beans and comes together quickly – although you could certainly rely on dried beans that you cook yourself. The beans are simmered in broth (use vegetable broth to make this dish vegan) with toasted garlic, rosemary and a strip of lemon peel, for just 10 minutes, long enough to infuse them with aromatic flavor and allow them to break down a bit.

Mashing some of the beans in the saucepan as they cook, helps create a thick, saucy stew, which is served topped with a salad of thinly sliced radicchio and matchsticks of green apple simply dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Together, they are a yin yang of color and flavor, the fresh salad with its pleasant bitterness and lovely layer of tartness contrasting the comforting earthiness of the warm stew. With that, you can add stew to the list of dishes that are rocketed by “put a salad on it,” a list that I’d say is long enough to get that hashtag trending, too.

White Bean Stew With Garlic and Rosemary and Radicchio-Apple Salad

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Two (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (3 cups cooked beans)

1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

One (½-by-3-inch) strip lemon peel

½ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 cups thinly sliced radicchio

½ unpeeled small green apple, cored and cut into matchsticks (about ½ cup)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic and heat until the garlic starts to sizzle lightly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until the garlic is golden but not brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, then add the beans, broth, lemon peel, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and mashing some of the beans against the pot with a spoon to thicken the liquid, until the mixture is thick and saucy and the ingredients have melded, about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, in a medium bowl, toss the radicchio and apple with the remaining oil, the lemon juice and the remaining salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon the stew into shallow bowls and top with a generous mound of the radicchio-apple salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Make ahead: The bean stew, without the salad, may be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated until needed; rewarm over low heat with a splash of water or broth, if necessary.

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