Serves four to six
8 ounces dried white beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
2 bay leaves, if using dried beans
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1 pound asparagus
½ cup tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
½ cup olive oil
1. If using canned beans, drain and rinse. If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water for six hours or overnight. Drain beans and transfer to a medium pot. Cover beans by two inches with water and add 1½ teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Simmer until just tender but not at all mushy, about 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending upon what kind of beans you’re using. Drain.
2. Break off tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch trimmed asparagus for 1½ minutes, or until just cooked through but still firm, then plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for five minutes, then drain. Pat dry and slice diagonally into ½-inch pieces.
3. In a blender or food processor, combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about one minute.
4. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.
Melissa Clark, The New York Times