This is a straight rendition – with a few tweaks, noted below – of the foundation bean recipe found in Michelle Sicolone’s fabulous book, 1,000 Italian Recipes.
It’s also something of a departure for me.
I am so used to finely dicing aromatic vegetables and making them an integral part of my pot dishes that leaving them unchopped, using them for, um, aromatic purposes and then discarding them feels a little weird.
But I’m prepared to give it a shot.
Truth is, despite cooking a variety of pulse dishes drawing on South Louisiana, Indian and Italian traditions, I often find the textures, look and flavours do end up with a certain degree of same-iness because of the way I habitually use the vegetables.
This will be something different.
And if the beans end up as creamy and smooth as advertised, they may be a hit with Bennie.
500g cannellini beans
1 carrot, trimmed
1 celery rib with leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Soaks beans overnight
2 Drain beans, place in pot and cover by at least an inch with water.
3. Bring to boil.
4. Reduce heat to low and skim off foam.
5. Add vegetables and olive.
6. Cover pot and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, adding more water of needed, until beans are very tender and creamy.
7. Add salt.
8. Discard vegetables.
This is a batch of beans that is started before noon yet not destined for eating until our evening meal, so there is no rush and I can let things unfold naturally and observe with interest.
It seems to take a while for any great degree of assimilation to start taking place, but when it kicks in, it is comprehensive. What seems for a long time to be too watery by far ends up being just right.
When it comes time to discard the vegetables, I simply can’t go whole hog.
I finely dice the carrot and back in it goes, joining the obliterated celery leaves in providing some colour.
These are, indeed, by far the smoothest, creamiest beans I have EVER cooked – I only wish I could do so well with black eyed peas and, especially, red beans ‘n’ rice.
They are very plain, though, to the point of austerity – and that’s with the salt and a couple of non-recipe-mandated shakes of freshly ground black pepper.
As such, they’d be sensational as a side dish to, say, sausages or pork chops.
The second bean recipe in 1,000 Italian Recipes is Tuscan beans, in which the garlic is used but the other vegetables are replaced with rosemary or sage.
I like the idea of combining both recipes.
We have these beans with toasted Zeally Bay sourdough casalinga rubbed with garlic and brushed with virgin olive oil.