Beans and Greens

This summer's new CSA boxes have begun arriving on a regular basis and we are so enjoying their contents.  And yesterday, the first of many 10-lb. boxes of organic fruit arrived from across the mountains.  I have cherries everywhere at the moment.  I promise a full cherry clafouti report soon.

For now, I'm talking about escarole, which arrived in our CSA box last week.  A bitter-ish green, currently in season, which tastes great sauteed.  It is especially tasty in this dish, which I adapted from a recipe in a cookbook I owned long ago -- a cookbook that's name escapes me but it was authored by Dr. Andrew Weil and Oprah's former chef, a woman named Rosie.  In any case, this preparation is still very much around and in heavy rotation at our house.

Beans & Greens
olive oil
dried red chile flakes
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 head escarole, roughly chopped (I use lacinato kale when I don't have escarole)
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped or sliced
3 cups cannellini beans, cooked (if from a can, rinse and drain)
1-2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 lb. dried penne pasta (or another shape you like)
About a 1/2 c. basil pesto -- homemade or purchased, whatever you like
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Cook the pasta to al dente in a large pot of boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, using a large skillet or saut√© pan, saute the onion and pepper flakes in olive oil until just getting soft. Add the greens and let them just wilt.  Add the garlic and stir everything around until the garlic is nicely fragrant but not browned.  Add the beans and about 1 cup of the broth, cover the dish but leave some space so steam can easily escape and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, until the greens are tender, beans are heated through, and the broth is reduced or gone.  Add the remaining broth and stir everything together.  Taste for salt and add some if needed. Remove mixture from the heat.

Drain the pasta, but don't rinse.  Toss the hot pasta with the pesto in a bowl.  The pasta should be generously coated with pesto.  You may need a bit more pesto or depending on pasta size/pesto texture.

To assemble: Place about 1/2 cup of the pesto-covered pasta in a shallow serving bowl.  Ladle a generous helping of the greens/beans/broth mixture over the pasta.  Top with the cheese.

Serves 4 as a main course


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