Sunday Night Beans

Wow.  January turned out to be full of things to deal with -- no plums this time -- but there was car theft (including my purse and passport), my sister's thyroid surgery (she's doing great and on the mend), some new job responsibilities for Byron (meaning longer hours), and then (hooray) the stolen car was recovered (repairs and fumigation to follow).

On a brighter note, our balmy January weather gave me more days than usual to get into the garden.  I spent a day renovating my perennial bed in the back yard (anyone need any iris?  Siberian and bearded available).  And, I'm putting in a cold frame at the p-patch. 

Another bright spot -- my seven bags of beans from Rancho Gordo arrived.  So pretty.

We eat a lot of beans around here -- all different ways.  Black beans with onions and garlic, chili beans, bean soup with veggies, refried beans, beans and greens . . .

I find the long prep time that beans require to be a good excuse to slow down and hang out in the kitchen for a while.  Quite therapeutic after a busy week.

One of my favorite ways to make beans is my own version of "Home Alone Beans," a recipe I discovered in a Sun Valley Cookbook some years ago.  I used local cannellinis from Willie Green's Farm for this recipe -- but any white bean will do.

Sunday Night Beans
1 1/2 c. dried cannellini beans
6-8 c. filtered water
1-28 oz. can chopped, fire-roasted, good quality tomatoes
2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. good quality olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 c. white wine or water

Garnish (don't omit):
red onion, thinly sliced
pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano, grated
ground black pepper

Rinse and pick through the beans.  Put them in a heavy cooking pot -- I use a Le Creuset pot -- and cover with the water.  The water should be at least two inches above the beans.  Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for about a minute.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let them sit for a couple hours.

Once the beans have soaked, bring them to a boil again and simmer gently until tender.  For dried beans harvested this season, I find this takes less than an hour.  Older beans will take longer and may require you add a little more cooking water.  By the time the beans are done you want some remaining liquid but just enough so the top beans are not exposed.  Also, don't let the beans fall apart.  Once tender, add the salt and the tomatoes (juice and all) and heat through.

While the beans are cooking assemble and chop all your herbs and garlic.

When the beans are finished, in a separate small sauce pan, heat the oil.  While it is heating, add the chili flakes, all the herbs, and the sliced garlic.  Bring to a rapid boil and cook until the mixture is fragrant and a little soft.  Don't let the garlic get crispy.  This may take a minute or two. When you're ready to stop the cooking, add the wine or water.  Stir, bring to a boil again, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about a minute longer.  Add this all at once to the beans and tomato mixture.

Ladle into bowls with as much or as little of the broth as you like.  Garnish with onion slices (I've used white onion or scallions with good success too), cheese, and a grind of black pepper.

Serves 6.


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