Monday, February 18, 2008

Healthy Comfort

It's a rainy night in New York City. I'm hungry, but since Fork is at band practice, I don't feel like cooking a big ol' dinner for one. Yet I want something healthy, as my diet today mainly consisted of two granola bars, a muffin and some leftover ravioli (all tasty, yet lacking in the fresh vegetable department). So I turned to a recipe I'd tried once before, that had turned out well but left me with a few thoughts a la "next time I make this...."

And tonight, I nailed it. I love the recipe's name: Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens. It's from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking, a book I rave about often. You sautee large white beans in olive oil, letting them sit long enough to brown, so they become golden and a little crunchy on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. You add some garlic and onion, and then you stir in fresh greens--kale, tonight--until they wilt. Top the dish with some freshly grated Parmesan, a smattering of hot pepper flakes, and you've got yourself a meal.

This time, I made sure to use truly "giant" beans. Last time I'd used cannellini, and they just didn't hold up to the sauteeing as well. I also julienned the kale instead of roughly chopping it, which made it a little softer but still nowhere near overdone. And against Heidi's advice, I used canned beans--butter beans, to be exact--instead of dried ones that I'd previously soaked and simmered for hours. I wanted to eat this dish tonight. And it turned out fine. Next time you want a fast, healthy, comforting dish, I highly recommend this keeper.--S

Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, 3 or 4 as a main course

1/2 lb. medium or large dried white beans, cooked [I think canned work fine. I used butter beans, but you can also use giant corona beans or cellini beans]
3 T 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 1/2-in. pieces [I used kale]
Freshly ground black peppper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

1. 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 saute 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 3-4 min., before turning to brown the other side, also about 3-4 min. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Salt to taste.
2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 min., until the onion softens.
3. Stir in the chard and cook until just beginning to wilt.
4. Remove from the heat and season to taste with a generous dose of salt & pepper. Drizzle with a bit of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

Recipe courtesy of Super Natural Cooking


Kate said...

YUM. I'm totally making this tonight. xo

Kate said...

this is the sort of recipe you can see foodies at babbo drooling over. simple but so-o-o tasty.

Heather said...

I've been lurking on your blog, and I'm glad to see that you are, as always, up to making fabulous food. I still dream about those Chinese mushrooms. Hope you are well!

Laura said...

just made this, yo, and it was DEE LISH! 'cept i couldn't find kale (boo!) but substituted with spinach and reduced the final wilting time. a stupendous dish, indeed!