Tag Archives: beans

Escarole, sausage & bean soup

27 Feb

Okay, so this isn’t the lowest-cal soup that’s come out of the kitchen this winter.

What, are you on a diet or something?

Escarole, sausage and beans are on this earth to give us pleasure. And everybody knows that they do this best when they are together.

That’s a fact, by the way. If you don’t believe me, just look it up.

So if you’re still in winter soup-making mode give this one a try. In Maine we’ll be in soup-making mode until around mid-June, so there’s still plenty of time to let me know how things turn out.

Finely dice two carrots, two celery stalks, one onion, five or six garlic cloves and a little hot pepper and saute in olive oil until softened but not browned.

Then stir in a pound of sweet Italian sausage meat.

After just a few minutes the sausage meat should be cooked enough.

At this point add 12 cups of water, one pound of thoroughly rinsed dried beans (I used a small white varietal but most any bean will do) and a piece of cheese rind (Parmigiano-Reggiano of course!). Cover the pot and allow to simmer at medium-high heat.

Cooking beans is an inexact science and so at this stage you’re kind of on your own. I did not presoak these beans (if I had they would have cooked faster), so at the one-hour mark I tested them to find they were around 45 minutes away from being done.

After another 15 minutes or so I added a full head of cleaned and chopped escarole, as well as salt and pepper to taste, then returned the cover to the pot and let things simmer for another half hour.

The total cooking time of your soup may vary but this one simmered for a little under two hours.

At which point you can have at it right away or let the soup sit in the fridge overnight and eat it the following day.

Since this batch will feed 4-6 people My Associate and I chose to do both.

Pasta with kale & beans

31 Jan

If not for the anchovy this could have made it to the Vegetarian Recipe Index.

Oh well, at least it’s reasonably healthy. My doctor would approve, I think. He’s the one who keeps yammering on about how awesome swell his “plant-based diet” has been treating him.

Yeah, whatever.

Beans and pasta is good winter dish. It won’t kill me to toss something green in every once in a while, right? And this kale stuff’s got a ton of Vitamin K, or at least that’s what the doc tells me. What Vitamin K’s good for I couldn’t tell you, but the leafy green makes for a nice addition to this pasta and that’s good enough for me.

Did I mention how easy-peasy this dish is? No? Well, it is.

In a large pot of well-salted water blanch the kale for several minutes, until tender. Remove the kale from the water with tongs or a slotted spoon. Don’t throw away the water because we’ll use it to cook the pasta. After the kale is cool enough to work with chop it into pieces around an inch wide.

In a large pan saute four or so garlic cloves, some hot pepper to taste and a few anchovy filets.

After two or three minutes stir in the kale.

Then add a can of cannellini beans (drained of the liquid) and saute at medium heat.

Cook whatever pasta shape you like in the salted water that you cooked the kale in. I went with strozzapreti (“priest-strangler” in Italian), and this is around a half pound.

When your pasta is al dente add it to the pan with the kale and beans and incorporate, using some of the pasta water to moisten.

Plate and top with some grated cheese.

Oh, and if you run into my doctor give him an earful about how good I’ve been eating lately, okay.

Just don’t mention the porterhouse that I scored for tonight.

Cannellini puree with bottarga

14 May

You are looking at one top-drawer appetizer here, folks. And easy to make? Please.

It’s beans that have been sauteed in garlic.

Pulverized in the blender.

And topped with olive oil and a little freshly grated bottarga.

It’s served as a dip with a nice crusty bread.

What more is there to say?

Cannellini Puree with Grated Bottarga
Adapted from “Seafood alla Siciliana” by Toni Lydecker

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove (I used more than that)
2 cups cooked cannellini or chickpeas (add an onion and a bay leaf to the water or stock when cooking, then discard)
1/4 cup reserved bean cooking liquid, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tsp. grated bottarga

Saute the garlic in the olive oil until soft, then add the beans, cooking liquid and salt and heat through.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, adding more cooking liquid as needed. (Consistency should be a bit thicker than a thick soup.)
Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, top with bottarga and serve with bread.

Grandpa’s bean bread

21 Mar
In case you needed further evidence that the male humpback meatball’s olive-sized brain stalls at an early stage of culinary development, well, here you go then.
This is stale bread. And hot water.
They tackle more challenging recipes than this in The Joint (I am told).
“Bean bread” is what my family calls this dish. And that about covers it. Cousin John tells me that our grandfather was a big fan and that he regularly allocated vast sums of “Italian bread” to be used strictly for its use.
Making a good bean bread doesn’t exactly require a PhD (sorry, grandpa). First you take your stale bread or your frizelle or whatever similarly crunchy substance you find appealing and you slap it on a plate. Those beans you were boiling? What’s that, you weren’t boiling a pot of beans? Better get on that. Because after they’re cooked you need to grab yourself a ladle, scoop out some of the cloudy-looking liquid that the beans were cooked in and then distribute it over the bread.
Am I going too fast for you? I know. It’s complicated. Trust me, you’ll do fine.
Anyway, after the bread is nice and moist you drizzle some olive on top, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, some herbs, even chopped garlic if you like. And that is pretty much that. (I had boiled some cannellini beans to be used in a couple different dishes. They cooked along with a pork bone, an onion, and the rind from a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.)
Next time you whip up a batch of beans, like for a soup or pasta e fagioli, give my grandpa’s bean bread a try. It’s as delicious and comforting as it is simple to prepare.
Any meatball can do it.