Winter is a great time to try out some hearty new recipes, such as the ones below. Read our story on dried beans in today’s LENS first to get some tips.
Tuscan Beans with Olive Oil
This dish could be a main dish with bread and a salad or a side dish to grilled chicken breast, pork chop or steak. Dried cannellini beans can be found at Whole Foods but check cooperative grocery stores and specialty grocery stores. From “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.
• 1 1/2 cups dried white beans, such as cannellini, soaked overnight and drained
• Any or all of the following aromatics: 1 small onion, quartered; 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed; 4 or 5 sage leaves; 2 bay leaves; 2 bay leaves; 12 black peppercorns; 1 small dried hot red chili
• 1/4 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
• Sea salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
• 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Set beans in a saucepan and add 3 1/2 cups water and any or all of the aromatics. Do not add salt. Bring water to a boil, turn the heat down, cover the beans and simmer gently for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, adding boiling water from time to time if necessary to keep the beans from scorching. Be attentive; if the water gets low, the beans will scorch very quickly. Cooking time depends on the size and age of the beans, which is hard to assess. At the end of 30 minutes, start testing the beans to judge how tender they are and continue testing periodically until the beans are done. They should be very tender but not falling apart.
Remove beans from the heat and drain them, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the aromatics used in cooking the beans. At this point, if you wish, remove about 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked beans and crush them gently, using a fork, in about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Then stir in the crushed beans with the whole cooked beans. Add more cooking liquid if you wish to reach the desired consistency. Or leave all the beans whole and add 1/2 cup or more of the reserved cooking liquid.
Add olive oil to the beans while hot and stir to coat the beans well. Dress them with one of the combinations or devise your own:
1 garlic clove, minced, and 6 scallions, both white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal.
A little chopped raw onion and finely slivered fresh green chilies.
The juice of 1/2 lemon along with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and chopped fresh hot red chilies or a pinch of hot red pepper flakes.
Finely minced fresh green herbs — basil, dill, fennel tops, chervil, sage, lovage, borage or others.
Taste and add salt and freshly ground black or white pepper after dressing the beans. Whatever the flavors or garnishes, however, the beans should be sprinkled with minced parsley before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes six to eight servings.
Chick Pea Stew
This Turkish dish has a lot of ingredients but it’s easy to cook and delicious. Drained yogurt is made by draining the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer for several hours. This dish keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator and benefits from being made ahead. From “Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine,” by Martha Rose Shulman.
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 onions, sliced
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar or 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or lemon juice
• 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped; or 1 (14-ounce) can of tomatoes, drained and chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 4 ounces leaf spinach
• 1/2 pound dried chick peas, cooked and drained; or 2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a mix of flat-leaf parsley, dill and mint
• Lemon wedges
• Drained yogurt (see headnote)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes, and add garlic, cumin and fennel seeds. Cook until onion has colored slightly, 5 to 8 minutes. Add sugar and stir together for a minute, then stir in the vinegar, tomatoes and Aleppo pepper or substitutions. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, about 10 minutes.
Stir in spinach, chick peas and about 1 teaspoon salt. Add enough water so the dish can simmer. Simmer uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, about 20 to 25 minutes. The stew should be saucy but not watery. Add salt to taste and stir in the herbs. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt.
Makes four servings.
Caribbean Black Bean Soup
Follow general instructions on cooking the black beans, reserving beans and broth to add to this soup. Adapted from “Heirloom Beans,” by Steve Sandoz and Vanessa Barrington.
• 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
• Olive oil
• 4 whole fresh or canned plum tomatoes, with juice
• 1/2 pound black valentine or black beans with cooking liquid
• 1/2 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, chopped
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• Freshly ground pepper
• Sour cream, optional garnish
• 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced, optional garnish
• Fresh cilantro leaves, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Put tomatoes in a baking dish. (If using fresh tomatoes, cut them in half and put them cut side down in the dish.) Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the oven until soft, fragrant and brown, about 20 minutes.
Place beans and their broth in a soup pot and warm over low heat.
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, chili and carrot and saute until fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Add onion mixture, cumin, oregano, cayenne and chicken or vegetable broth to the beans.
Peel roasted garlic cloves. Chop garlic cloves and tomatoes coarsely and add to the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook till the vegetables are soft and the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. Let soup cool slightly.
Transfer about half the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Return to the soup to the pot, stir and adjust the seasoning.
Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with sour cream, avocado slices and cilantro, if desired.
Makes six to eight servings.