Wednesday, June 18, 2008

White Beans with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Sage

Yes it's time for another installment of Legume Wednesday! Hooray! Tonight's recipe is excellent. Tonight we travel to the home of some of my husband's family's roots. Italy. Apparently white beans, tomatoes and garlic are ubiquitous in Florence. And most of my cookbooks have some recipe for "Tuscan White Beans". The recipes were mostly similar and some weren't very appetizing. Also, as I've never had these beans before, I wanted to make sure I made something fairly authentic. So I turned to my giant The New Best Recipe Cookbook. According to this cookbook, the traditional way for these beans to be made is for them to be stuck in an empty Chianti bottle and stuck in the embers of the fire overnight. Fortunately for me, and for you dear readers, the cookbook modernized the process for today's cook.

Although it took a long time to make these White Beans with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Sage, the effort level was small and the rewards were tremendous. I realized at about 3:00 this morning in the middle of glazing some donuts at work that I forgot to soak the beans overnight. This was a little unnerving as I was determined to do another dried bean recipe. When I got home I immediately checked the recipe and found to my delight that there is no soaking required. Yay!

Boiling the beans with the onion, carrot, garlic, and bay leaves add tremendous flavor too. I have to admit, I tasted the beans several times while the tomatoes were cooking. The cookbook says you can use canned beans instead, but I can't imagine how you would get canned beans to taste so good. The recipe does use two pots, but I managed to do the dishes while making it so it all came out even in the end!

So yeah, this is one of the tastiest bean dishes I've ever had. It totally hit the spot tonight. I even helped myself to seconds. Fortunately it makes a lot of beans and I can have them for lunches for the rest of the week. These beans are also ridiculously good for you, low calorie, high in protein and fiber. They also are crazy cheap to make provided you have a well stocked pantry and an herb garden. And they are so very delicious.

White Beans with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Sage

1 pound dried white beans (navy, great northern or cannellini) rinsed and picked over
1 medium onion, unpeeled and halved through the root end
1 medium carrot cut into 2 inch chunks
1 garlic head, top quarter cut off and loose papery skin removed
2 bay leaves
6 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 medium garlic cloves sliced thin
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
ground black pepper
Bring the beans, onion, carrot, garlic head, 1 tsp salt, the bay leaves, and water to a boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partly cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are almost tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding more liquid if necessary. Remove the pot from the heat, completely cover, and let stand until the beans are fully tender, 30 to 60 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the onion, carrot, and bay leaves. With a slotted spoon, transfer the head of garlic to a cutting board. Using the tongs, squeeze the cloves out of the skins and return the softened cloves to the pot with the beans; discard the skins.

Heat the olive oil, sliced garlic, and sage in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. As the oil begins to sizzle, shake the pan back and forth so that the garlic does not stick (stirring with a wooden spoon will cause the garlic to clump). Cook until the garlic turns very pale gold and the sage darkens, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomato juices have evaporated and the tomatoes look shiny, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. 18 to 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, accompanied by extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.


Anonymous said...

Yummy. How much do we LOVE the Best Recipe cookbooks?

Still waiting for more donut details!

glamah16 said...

Yum. Flavah!

LisaRene said...

This does sound delicious, thanks for sharing! I must admit that I am a canned bean person but think this will be the recipe where I venture out into the world of dried beans :)

Sara said...

ooh! I love not having to remember to soak the beans! I always forget that.

How many servings is that supposed to make? It sounds like quite a big batch.

Johanna said...

these look amazing and are bookmarked because these are just my kind of thing.

I have beans sitting around my house precisely because I keep forgetting to soak them so I love a recipe that doesn't require pre soaking but uses dried beans (rather than my usualy canned)

Mary said...

Marti- Donut details are in the next post. Sorry about the delay!

Courtney- Thanks! They were terrific!

Lisa- Yeah canned beans are super easy, but dried beans are way cheap. So this is really the best of both worlds.

Sara- The cookbook says it makes 6 as a main dish and 8 to 10 as a side dish. We ate our fill that night and then had leftovers for several more days. I would almost say it serves 8 as a main dish.

Johanna- I'm sure you will like them. And beans seems to be something I always have on hand.

Michael A. Gottlieb said...

I am making your bean recipe right now. They are in the final stage, and BOY do they smell good! I can hardly wait until they are done. I made one substitute: because I couldn't get any sage (in rural Costa Rica, where I live), I used fresh oregano instead. Thanks for the great recipe.

Stacey said...

Just made these and they were fantastic! Thanks for sharing!