Tag Archives: cannellini beans

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.

Clams with sausage & beans

19 Apr

Some friends were returning from a luxurious island holiday recently. As their plane would arrive home on the lateish side I decided to be a nice guy and leave something in their fridge for when they got back. Why I did this I am not entirely certain. I had offered — on numerous occasions — to accompany them on their weeklong getaway, pointing out my not insignificant skills as a valet. To no avail. What made me decide on this particular dish I haven’t a clue either. I like it. But I wasn’t going to be eating it — now, was I?

Friendship, I will admit, often bewilders me.

Anyhow, in a pan that’s large enough to steam a bunch of clams, saute an onion, four cloves of garlic, some hot pepper, and four anchovy fillets in olive oil. Also add some herbs; I’ve used thyme and marjoram here. Saute until the onions are softened but not browned. (And, yes, you can ditch the anchovy and/or hot pepper if you like.)

Add one pound of sweet Italian sausage meat.

After the meat has browned a bit, add 1 1/2 cups of broth (I used chicken here) and allow to boil for around 10 minutes.

Add one 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (drained) and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add a dozen or more whole clams (there are 18 mahogany clams here), then cover the pan and allow the clams to cook all the way through until all have opened. This should take 5 to 10 minutes; discard any clams that do not open.

Mix in a handful of freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Or, stick in somebody else’s fridge and let them serve it.

Either way, I won’t be getting any.

How to hijack a dinner party

2 Feb

It looks as though I planned this thing out some, right?


I was not on deck to cook this particular evening. Nor even do the provisioning. The only reason I had stepped foot inside the Rosemont Market on Brighton was to loiter in the wine department and collect a few bottles to go along with my friend Giovani’s birthday dinner.

But then I just had to mosey over to the meat counter, just to say hi to Jarrod the butcher.

Next thing you know I had taken possession of all these beautiful specimens. And for no reason other than that I wanted them. There was a mixed pound of duck and sweet Italian sausage, a pound of pork belly, two giant fatty pork chops, half a pound of pork ribs, and a couple duck legs and thighs.

Hey, somebody had to go home with the things!

An hour or so later and I was in my kitchen, hoping that the comforting aroma of a soffritto simmering in the dutch oven might somehow soften the blow of my having hijacked the birthday meal — a blow no doubt felt by my associate, who had been charged with cooking it.

For the record, it did not soften the blow very much. If at all.

The soffritto, by the way, consisted of a leek, four carrots, a large onion, four garlic cloves lightly smashed but left whole, a tablespoon of fresh marjoram, two tablespoons of fresh rosemary, and four sage leaves. After the vegetables and herbs softened a bit, I started browning the meat in batches, as there was too much of it to do so at once.

After all the meats were browned, I removed them, tossed in two cups of white wine and reduced it pretty much all the way down.

Then the meats went back into the dutch oven. Some cannellini and borlotti beans had soaked overnight (for, ahem, another person’s purposes, not my own) and so I threw a bunch of them in too, along with eight cups of freshly made chicken stock (also not made by, well, me).

After a good couple of hours in the oven (covered) this mess of meat and beans was ready to go. Except that I am a big believer in such dishes benefiting from a day’s rest, and with the birthday dinner scheduled for the following day all was well with my plan.

So well that I was forgiven my indiscretion.

At least for the duration of the meal.

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.

Pasta fazool

14 Sep
There is music inside this pot of beans.
If only I could play it.
One line of the lyric is all that I can muster: Pasta fazool-a make-a weak-a man-a strong.
It is my mother’s voice that I hear, and she is singing a tune that her father would sing to her. I have added the “-a”s for authenticity. My grandfather, an immigrant, spoke with a very heavy accent, and his daughter, when mimicking his singing, did her best to achieve her father’s countenance.
Not even Uncle Dominic can remember more of the song than I can, and so you are hereby spared any further comment on this topic. (You’re welcome.)
Anyway, about the dish. It is pasta and beans. Its proper name is pasta e fagioli. It is perhaps the easiest thing to prepare this side of warming tap water in a saucepan. And, according to the people in my orbit anyway, it is the most comforting bowlful of goodness that you will ever put a spoon to.
I put a spoon to the stuff just a few days back. It was already cold — and rainy — here in Maine (don’t get me started) and I was staring at the cannellini beans just harvested from my garden. What can I say? The pasta fazool song came bursting into my brain, and so here we are.
If you know the dish, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well, everybody could use a little music in their lives, right?
Pasta e fagioli (Pasta fazool)
Note: This is a big batch, as I had a lot of cannellini beans this year, so please feel free to halve this recipe. Further, I added sausage meat on this occasion. This is not traditional, and resulted only because there were sausages in the fridge that required cooking.
14 cups water
4 cups fresh or dried beans (I used cannellini but any type will do)
6 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
2 Tbsp rosemary
1 piece of rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt to taste
3 Italian sausage, meat removed from the casings (optional)
1/2 lb. pasta of your choice (I used shells)
Grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot of boiling water add the beans, garlic, rosemary, cheese rind and salt.
About 20 minutes before the beans are cooked to your liking add the sausage meat (if you’re using it).
Just before the beans are fully coked, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In a bowl top with grated cheese and ground pepper and serve.
Sing — or don’t sing — my grandfather’s song. Makes no difference to me.

Bean and broccoli soup

21 Jun
A vegetarian I am not. Never have been.
However, recently I caught a mess of crap from a pair of non-meat eaters of my acquaintance. (They called me a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal; can you believe that?) And so, in the interest of harmonious relations with the herbivore crowd, allow me to offer one of the best meat-eschewing soups that I know. 
(If you are wondering what possible use could such a recipe have at this time of year, then consider this: Last week it was cold enough and wet enough up here that, as the soup simmered on the stovetop at the waterfront cabin where I was visiting, I strolled down to a nearby ship’s chandlery and bought myself a new fleece cap.)
I just gotta fly south one of these days.
So, you got your onions, your garlic, celery, pepper, like that, all sauteing in olive oil, then some dry vermouth.
Toss in the broccoli and the beans, along with a good chunk(s) of rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I always have a bunch in the freezer).
Add water or vegetable stock and cook for about an hour.
And there you go.
No muss, no fuss. 
And no dragging of knuckles.
Bean and broccoli soup
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 whole garlic cloves
1 small onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 hot pepper, chopped
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 cups cannelini beans (fresh or dried)
1 head broccoli
Rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 cups water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the garlic, onion, celery and hot pepper in oil until softened, then add vermouth and cook until it evaporates.
Add the broccoli, beans, cheese rind and liquid, then a good dose of salt and some ground pepper.
Cook about an hour and serve.

Trippa e fagioli

17 Apr
Sounds better in Italian, don’t it?
It’s tripe and beans.
You may commence to getting the hell out of here while the getting is still good. Nice chattin’ with you.
Okay, to the three of you who are still with me, here is what went down. It was a rainy day and I was about to cook up a nice pot of bean soup, with the cannellini beans from my garden last summer (I froze a bunch while they were fresh out of the pods). Then I found myself on the phone, talking about how you see more tripe on restaurant menus these days (it’s true, don’t you think?), and, well, you know.
If you are of a mind to try this recipe, let me say two things. First, there was no recipe, I just played around and this is how things turned out. Second, things turned out really, really well. 
I’m glad I wrote everything down. Even if only the four of us care.
Tripe and beans
4 lbs. beef tripe
1/4 lb. bacon (or pancetta), diced
1 lb. sausage meat
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, chopped
4 clove garlic, crushed but left whole
1 hot pepper or pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
4 cups cannellini beans
12 cups chicken stock
Rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the tripe well then cover in water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about an hour, then drain and allow the tripe to cool enough to handle. Once it’s cooled, cut into 1-inch pieces.
In a pot large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, brown the bacon, then add the sausage meat and brown it too.
Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and pepper and saute for around 10 minutes, then add the vermouth and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
Add the tripe, beans, stock, cheese rind (I used two thick hunks), salt and pepper and cook for an hour or so.