Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beans of Awesomeness (with Greens)

I recently found Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson at our local library and spent an evening curled up with it on the couch. It's filled with luscious images that make you want to spend the day cooking (and eating). But as soon as I spotted this simple side dish using chard, I knew which recipe I would be trying first.

The official name is Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens. I've affectionately renamed them the Beans of Awesomeness. Because that is exactly what they are.

I wish I were a better food photographer, so I could capture how delicious this dish is. The beans have a textured, almost crunchy outside with soft centers; the flavor of the greens quietly blends in among the garlic and olive oil. What's more, it uses simple, easy to find ingredients.

The author cautions against using canned beans, which apparently don't hold up well to sautéing. So sometime the day of or in the few days before, you'll want to cook up one-half pound of large dried white beans (notes on how to cook dried beans).  I failed to think about the beans the night before, but got away with soaking them for five hours and cooking for one. I added a shallot to the stock pot just to make things a little more interesting.

From there, it all happens in a single skillet. Fair warning: you need a large skillet.

Sauté in butter or oil in a single layer
(this was too crowded)
Flip when beans begin to turn
golden and crusty
Add onion and garlic
Add chard, cooking just until wilted
The cookbook suggested serving the beans "over grilled slices of rustic bread rubbed with a clove of garlic and a fragrant extra-virgin olive oil." A homely bruschetta, if you will.

At this point in the meal, conversation stopped. Because we were too busy scarfing down tasty bean-topped bread.

The Husband declared he would happily serve the Beans of Awesomeness to guests. I heartily agreed. And in our house, that's about the highest compliment a dish can get.

Recipe below; printable version here.
  • ½ lb. medium or large dried white beans, cooked
  • 3 Tbs clarified butter or olive oil
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 or 7 big leaves chard, preferably rainbow chard, leaves cut into wide ribbons and 1 or 2 stems cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
Drain the beans, then heat the butter over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you've got. Add the beans to the hot pan in a single layer. If you don't have a big-enough skillet, just do the sauté step in two batches or save the extra beans for another use. Stir to coat the beans with butter, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Salt to taste, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the onion softens. Stir in the chard and cook until just beginning to wilt. Remove from the heat and season to taste with a generous dose of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

From Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking

1 comment:

  1. I found this recipe looking for something to do with rainbow chard. It is delicious! Thank you for sharing.


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