Great Northern Bean Salad with Leeks and Bacon
6 to 8 servings
2 c. (12 ounces) dry Great Northern beans, picked over for stones
2 to 4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
About two medium leeks (6 c. finely sliced)
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves
Rinse beans well, place in large saucepan with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and cover with 2 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer beans until tender, 2-3 hours. Drain beans, but reserve cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain bacon fat off skillet.
Slice leek lengthwise with root on. Trim away tough green leaves. Rinse away dirt between leek layers. Finely slice white and tender green parts to yield 6 cups.
Place skillet back onto stove. Add olive oil and leeks. Cook leeks over moderate heat until very tender, about 10 minutes. Add optional thyme and cook 1 minute.
Fold bacon and leeks into cooked beans. Season beans with salt and pepper, to taste. Add cooking water if necessary to keep beans moist, and simmer 10 minutes to marry flavors. Serve lukewarm.