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Posts tagged ‘black beans’

Genius Recipe

 

That’s a risky title. When I worked at a restaurant many years ago the chef, wisely, noted that you should never call anything the “best this” or “world-famous that”. . . it’s annoying, it’s highly subjective, so on and so forth. I think this falls into a slightly different category. The folks at Food52 ask folks to submit genius recipes and I believe they define them as just plain smart, unusual, surprisingly delicious, and/or unexpected in their simplicity and success. I’ve been meaning to submit this recipe to them but in the meantime, here it is. And it has an irreverent title to boot!

It’s toasted bread, rubbed with garlic, slathered with pesto and doused with brothy black beans. That’s it and it’s really, really good. Make it and tell me when you do and what you think.

Zuppa Bastarda (“Bastard Soup”)
–inspired by Carol Boutard (of Ayers Creek Farm) who got the recipe from Nostrana which got the recipe from Anne Bianchi.

Bastard soup is so named because it uses black beans, which are called fascistini in honor of what Elda Cecchi calls “that black shirted bastard who brought Italy to the brink of destruction during WWII.”

It’s very simple to make. And if you have previously cooked black beans with their broth on hand by all means just use those. The garlic and pesto on the toasted bread add lots of flavor so don’t be put off by its simplicity.

1 ¼ cups dried black beans, soaked (or 3 cups of cooked black beans in their cooking liquid, see headnote)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp dried crumbled dried sage or chopped, fresh sage
6 3/4-inch thick slices good bread, toasted
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Drain the beans and place in a soup pot along with 3 cloves of the garlic, the onion, sage, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 – 45 minutes or until beans are tender. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half. Using half a clove for each 2 slices of bread, rub the bread with the cut sides of the garlic until the bread is perfumed with the odor, spread about 1 tablespoon of pesto on each slice. Divided the slices among 6 bowls and pour the bean soup into the bowls over the bread. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. I’ve posted a bunch of new classes, shorter, cheaper and with new subject matter, including one for youth/kids and pantry stocking/quick meals one.

I used Black Basque beans (grown by Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon) this time around and they have a much lighter hue when cooked. Usually I use Black Turtle beans which are much darker. It works well with both or probably any other kind of black bean you have. Getting the best, freshest beans you can find is always good though.

 

 

Cooking Beans

Cook with what you have sounds nice but what should/would you like to have on hand? This is a fun and complex question. I’m going to tackle a small fragment of this question today. I’m going to talk about beans, white beans, and cooking them at home. A quick side note about dry beans. Here in the Portland area we are lucky to have a couple of very local sources of dried beans. Ayers Creek Farm sells their beans at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. The quality, flavor, varieties are unbeatable and worth seeking out. Sungold Farm sells pinto beans that are wonderfully sweat and creamy and are available at both the Portland Farmers Market and the Hillsdale Farmers Market. I have also had very good results with dry beans purchased from grocery stores, both bulk and packaged, so don’t let the possible lack of local beans deter you.

 

Navy Beans with bay leaves, garlic cloves and chunks of onion ready to cook.

 

I love to cook beans. The taste is unbeatable; it’s simple to do once you’re in the habit; and if you cook large quantities at once and freeze them it’s as convenient as having canned beans on hand but with better flavor, less waste, less expense, etc. My routine, since I work from home, is to put several pounds of beans in a big bowl covered with water before I go to bed. The next morning I drain them, put them in a big pot with a couple of bay leaves, a chunk of onion and few peeled, whole garlic cloves and simmer them for 35-60 minutes depending on the bean. Small white ones like the navy beans in this picture tend to cook in about 35 minutes if they haven’t been sitting on a shelf for several years.

For those of you who leave the house every day, you could put them to soak in the morning and then cook them while you’re making dinner. Once cooked, I strain them (reserving the liquid) and put them into pint and quart containers, pour the cooking liquid up to cover them (helps preserve them and it’s great liquid to keep if you’re going to make soup later on) and then freeze them. I do this with white, black and pinto beans and chickpeas regularly. Oh and on the perpetual question of when to salt the beans you’re cooking, I have long gone with the recommendation of John Willoughby from a piece in Gourmet years ago where he debunked the theory of not salting until they’re cooked. So, I salt at the beginning with great results but if you have a different method with which you are happy, by all means stick with that.

So what to do with all those “bean popsicles,” as a student of mine once called them? The frozen beans thaw quickly in a pan over high heat with a bit of water. I just thawed a pint for my lunch in about 5 minutes this way.

 

Navy Beans with tomato, garlic and oregano

 

Of course if you have the presence of mind to take them out of the freezer a few hours or a day ahead of time, great. They keep well in the fridge for the better part of a week. So, for the above lunch I mashed some garlic with salt, sautéed for a minute, added a can of tomatoes, broke those up a bit, added oregano and cooked over high heat for a about five minutes. I then added the thawed beans and heated those through. Some black pepper and a little olive oil to finish and voila!  This makes a delicious light lunch or side dish mixed with pasta and maybe some sausage a hearty and quick dinner.

 

Navy Beans with tomatoes, garlic and oregano

 

You could also toss the beans with some tuna, parsley, capers, finely chopped onion and a vinaigrette with plenty of red-wine vinegar and/or lemon juice. (For another local pitch, I love Oregon Albacore available at local grocery stores and farmers markets.) Or you could mash the beans with some lemon zest, juice, garlic, olive oil and a little rosemary or thyme and have a hearty spread. Or you could make a soup with kale, other veggies, sausage and white beans. The options really are vast.

 

White Bean and Tuna Salad

 

 

I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Do you cook beans? What do you do with them? Have you found it easy? Too much effort? Not satisfactory? Beans too mushy or crunchy?

Happy bean cooking and thanks for reading!

P.S. I’m going to be teaching a 3-part series in January on pantry stocking and cooking quick meals similar to the ones described above in case you’re interested.