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.
I make beans like your recipe. I take out the vegetables that have given their all to the flavor of the broth and like to add some fresh vegetables thirty minutes before finishing to add color. I’m like you…I like to add a little color to an otherwise plain looking dish.
Ditto wot Karen sez. Adding fresh chopped veg gives colour, flavour and importantly texture to these types of slow cooked meals.
So,, We leave the vegetables out after simmering?
Yes, that’s what the recipe says.
I think this specific recipe is meat as a foil for other parts of a meal so the plainness is to be desired.
I put the carrot back in anyway, and it turned out amazing – the texture and look was quite different than would’ve been the case had I chopped/diced the vegetables at the start. Very nice!
And as you can see from the comments here, other discard the cooking vegetables but then fresh goodies before eating.